The federal government declared last week that marijuana has no medicinal benefits. Have they been living under a rock?
Presidential administrations have a keen ability to ignore pressing issues and facts. Ronald Reagan tragically ignored HIV/AIDS for six years. The Bush Administration, meanwhile, famously looked the other way when Iraq turned out to have no weapons of mass destruction, and vehemently denied the existence of global warming, both in the face of overwhelming evidence.
And now the Obama Administration appears to be doing the same thing with medical marijuana: his government issued a report Friday that marijuana has no medicinal benefits and must therefore remain a Schedule I drug, just like heroin.
In the report, DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart insists that marijuana “has a high potential for abuse” and that there is “no currently accepted medical use in treatment” here in the States.
The decision comes as no surprise: despite the President’s campaign promises, he and his administration have vowed to crack down on medical marijuana in 16 states and the District of Columbia, where it’s legal, and just last week suggested that they would prosecute clerks who validated marijuana caregivers’ licenses.
While no one’s shocked by the DEA’s report, they should be outraged, especially because a variety of medical groups have backed, however timidly, more progressive pot politics for patients with cancer, chronic pain and even anorexia.
In 2009, for example, the American Medical Association released a report declaring, “controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.”
And the government-run National Cancer Institute concluded, “Marijuana cigarettes have been used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and research has shown that THC is more quickly absorbed from marijuana smoke than from an oral preparation.”
So, why would the Obama Administration continue fighting medical marijuana? I mean, the president admitted that he has smoked pot, so surely he knows the therapeutic side effects first hand.
The only logical conclusion I can draw is also the most cynical: money, honey.
During his 2008 White House run, President Obama raked in about $2.1 million from pharmaceutical companies, many of whom create synthetic marijuana substitutes that face competition from all-natural herb.
Now that he’s embarking on his reelection, the commander-in-chief no doubt has dollars and cents on the brain, rather than American patients and small business owners whose lives are improved by medical marijuana.
The DEA’s report isn’t all bad news, though; it opens the way for medical marijuana advocates to finally take the issue to appeals courts, where perhaps judges will rule in favor of what so many of us already know: medical marijuana helps countless Americans, the Obama Administration’s willful ignorance is out of step with the rest of the nation, at least 65 percent of whom support cannabis-based treatments, and continued enforcement of federal rules violates states’ rights.
It’s such an open-and-shut case, even Jeff Spicoli could comprehend it.