Statement by Steve Fox, Director of Government Relations, MPP

Statement by Steve Fox, Director of Government Relations, MPP

The Marijuana Policy Project is the nation’s largest marijuana policy reform organization. At MPP, we are intimately involved in the effort to enact medical marijuana laws on the state and federal level. From this perspective, we are keenly aware that the U-Mass situation is part of a pattern of obstruction and delay by the federal government that has been ongoing for more than 30 years.

In 1972, medical marijuana supporters filed a petition to reschedule marijuana with the DEA. 16 years later – which in itself demonstrates the extent to which the federal government has delayed action on medical marijuana – the DEA’s chief administrative law judge declared [and I quote]: “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known…[T]he provisions of the [Controlled Substances] Act permit and require the transfer of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II…It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance.” Despite this ruling, the political powers at the DEA, then and thereafter, have refused to place marijuana in a less restrictive schedule than Schedule I. In fact, this petition touched every administration – from Carter to Reagan to Bush the first to Clinton, whose DEA issued a final denial of the petition in 1994.

In 1999, the Clinton Administration was again forced into action on this subject by the enactment of state medical marijuana laws and by a National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine report acknowledging the therapeutic potential of marijuana. In response, the Department of Health and Human Services issued new guidelines for the study of marijuana in this country. But those hoping that research would be spurred forward by these new guidelines were sorely disappointed. The guidelines not only ensured that NIDA would retain sole control over the legal production and supply of marijuana in this country, but also ensured that researchers hoping to study the therapeutic benefits of marijuana would face bureaucratic obstacles that NO other researchers face – not researchers of other Schedule I drugs, and not researchers of new, potentially hazardous drugs. Marijuana – despite its known relative safety profile – is literally in a class by itself with respect to research approval.

For 30 years, the federal government has played games to prevent research on the therapeutic benefits of marijuana. Over those 30 years, perhaps millions of patients who might have benefited from the use of marijuana have suffered needlessly. This is a moral outrage and it needs to be stopped. The approval of the U-Mass application would be the first step in that direction.

— Steve Fox, Director of Government Relations
— Marijuana Policy Project
— P.O. Box 77492 — Capitol Hill — Washington, D.C. 20013
— —
— phone 202-462-5747, ext. 106 — fax 202-232-0442

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