Substance highlights a new report about the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s obstruction of scientific research into the medical benefits of marijuana. The report, by MAPS and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), was accompanied by a teleconference on June 11, 2014, featuring policy makers and drug policy advocates discussing solutions for expediting medical marijuana research. “The DEA is a police and propaganda agency,” explains DPA Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann. “It makes no sense for it to be in charge of federal decisions involving scientific research and medical practice, especially when its successive directors have systematically abused their discretionary powers in this area.”
Originally appearing here.
A new report, “The DEA: Four Decades of Impeding and Rejecting Science,” has just been released by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and the Drug Policy Alliance, attacking the agency’s “inability to exercise its responsibilities in a fair and impartial manner or to act in accord with the scientific evidence.”
It’s the latest in a chain of events ramping up the pressure on the DEA and increasing scrutiny of its role. “The DEA is a police and propaganda agency,” says Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the DPA. “It makes no sense for it to be in charge of federal decisions involving scientific research and medical practice, especially when its successive directors have systematically abused their discretionary powers in this area.”
The new report includes five case studies, each illustrating a different aspect of the DEA’s shortcomings. It recommends that “responsibility for determining drug classifications and other health determinations should be completely removed from the DEA and transferred to another agency, perhaps even a non-governmental entity such as the National Academy of Sciences,” and that the federal government’s monopoly on the medical marijuana available for scientific research should end. The report also accuses the DEA of creating a “regulatory catch-22”—in that the agency excuses its inaction on policy issues by claiming that there is insufficient research…while simultaneously acting to impede drug research.
To accompany the release of the report, MAPS and the DPA held a teleconference today involving advocates and Congressmen from either side of the aisle. All involved agreed that the DEA’s opposition to scientific research on the properties of currently illegal drugs is evidence of a dysfunctional system which, as Columbia psychiatry and psychology professor and DPA board member Carl Hart put it, “seems to be against a society that makes our decisions [based] on empirical scientific evidence.”
The DEA’s attitude has not gone unnoticed by lawmakers. On May 30, Representatives voted by 219-189 to ban the agency from raiding state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers, and also approved two amendments to prohibit DEA interference with state hemp laws—in the first ever major marijuana law reforms approved by Congress.
Although the Senate has yet to ratify the House’s decision, with recent further revelations of the DEA’s bullying tactics on the ground—this time involving threats against Massachusetts doctors who are involved in medical marijuana programs—and a campaign under way to fire DEA administrator Michele Leonhart, momentum against the agency is building.
In the teleconference, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) criticized the DEA’s treatment of doctors: “I see what was going in Massachusetts as a tremendous waste of resources and having a detrimental effect on our society.” And Iraq war veteran Sean Azzariti, who has PTSD, echoed the sentiment that the DEA’s fears concerning medical marijuana are scientifically unfounded: “I’m living proof that cannabis saves lives.”