HIGH TIMES Petitions DEA To Change Drug Laws

15 Point Summary
Petition to Repeal Schedule I and II Status of Cannabinoids

  1. The accepted contemporary legal convention for evaluating the abuse potential of a drug or substance is the relative degree of self-administration the drug induces in animal subjects. Marijuana does not induce self-administration in animal subjects. Therefore, the dependence liability of marijuana is, at least, significantly lower than well-known drugs of abuse which do induce self-administration in animals, such as heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines.
  2. The pharmacology, toxicology, and chemistry of marijuana and its constituent chemicals have been published in scientific journals, and structure activity relationships for the cannabinoids have been established and correlated with animal tests. A stable pharmacological profile of the substance's effects is available, as is epidemiological data on the incidence and prevalence of minor side effects. The substance has a well-established and extremely low toxicity. There are no cases of overdose on record.
  3. Most popular assertions about marijuana's affect on the human body and brain are based on what is now viewed by the scientific community as a discredited hypothesis. The discovery of a cannabinoid receptor system in the human body began a scientific revolution that radically altered contemporary knowledge about marijuana's effects on the body and brain. The cannabinoid receptor system accounts for almost all of marijuana's characteristic effects, as well as the substance's low toxicity.
  4. The discovery of the receptor system and the resulting research provides great promise for development of a new class of effective pharmaceutical drugs, and may enable scientists to learn more about the chemistry of emotions.
  5. These new research findings contradict many of the DEA's on-record findings of fact about marijuana, findings which have been used in the past to block reconsideration of marijuana's scheduling status.
  6. Marijuana use remains a widespread, persistent, and unregulated social practice among all age groups in the United States. Nearly 80% of marijuana users do not use other illegal drugs. There is no evidence that this widespread use indicates equally widespread abuse of marijuana.
  7. The credibility of government provided information about marijuana and health decreases as age and education increases, discrediting the hypotheses that marijuana use is inversely dependent on risk perception.
  8. Marijuana's schedule I status has failed to keep marijuana away from school-age children. The prevalence of alcohol and tobacco use by school-age youths exceeds and precedes marijuana use. Targeting marijuana use as a convenient battleground for the prevention of "drug abuse" is like closing the barn door after the horses have already left the barn.
  9. Marijuana use alone results in less emergency room visits per 100,000 population than common household painkillers or benzodiazepines.
  10. Marijuana prohibition makes criminals out of patients who use marijuana for legitimate therapeutic purposes, and forces patients to choose between honoring the law and honoring their own health. The absolute yet unenforceable schedule I prohibition creates tremendous ethical problems for physicians and health-care-providers, professionals well-aware of the widening gap between existing governmental policies and the developing support for marijuana's therapeutic potential in scientific and medical literature, and professionals who are seemingly instructed by law to discourage their patients from using marijuana even if such use has obvious therapeutic benefits.
  11. The federal failure to reconcile marijuana's schedule I status with contemporary medical and scientific evidence places an unfair and expensive burden on state criminal justice agencies and their limited budgets. Marijuana's schedule I status and the high priority it places on domestic and international marijuana eradication has the unintended effect of transforming domestic law enforcement activity into a massive market and price support mechanism for entrepreneurs here and abroad. Marijuana's schedule I status mandates high priority for domestic marijuana eradication efforts; the nearly impossible task presented to law enforcement results in extreme measures and increasing federalization of local and state judicial authority.
  12. The connection of marijuana use to the use of other illegal drugs, known as the gateway theory, is considered by its creator as a descriptive association, not a prediction of illegal drug use on the part of marijuana users. Alcohol and tobacco are the first drugs used by school aged use, and it is likely that problem alcohol drinking occurs between marijuana use and the use of other illegal drugs in those individuals who do use other illegal drugs. Social scientists believe the policy implications of their study of teenage drug use is that prevention policies must aim to delay the age of first use of drugs by school aged youths. Individuals who try marijuana for the first time after age 20 rarely if ever use other illegal drugs.
  13. Social science research provides empirical evidence to support the assertion that marijuana has a low potential for abuse unsuited for schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act. A recent convergence between pharmacology and behavioralism lend support to a theoretical model evaluating the effects of drug, set and setting on the use of drugs. Self administration is an indication that drug plays a predominant role among those three variables; the lack of self-administration in the case of marijuana, supported by the empirical social data, supports the assertion that in regards to marijuana abuse, set and setting play a more important role than the pharmacological substance itself.
  14. It was widely acknowledged when the Controlled Substances Act was passed into law that marijuana did not have the severe dependence liability required by schedules I or II, and that marijuana's placement in schedule I was meant to be temporary pending the review of current research by a forthcoming national commission, which recommended marijuana's decriminalization. When marijuana's status as a schedule I drug was reviewed in the mid 1980's, marijuana's retention in schedule I was based on a presumption that marijuana may have a severe dependence liability. The U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that the Controlled Substances Act mandates that a drug's abuse potential is the primary criterion in determining a drug or substance's appropriate schedule.
  15. Research made possible by the receptor system breakthrough and other advances in neurobiological research indicates that marijuana has no [direct] effect on dopamine production, explaining why animals will not self-administer marijuana and providing further support for the assertion that marijuana has a significantly low potential for abuse to justify lower scheduling under existing provisions of the Controlled Substances Act, and that schedule I status is in contravention of federal law.

 DEA Petition


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