After 20 Years, Federal Court to Review Evidence on Therapeutic Value of Marijuana
Americans for Safe Access, a group of doctors, medical professionals, and patients, will defend scientific evidence of marijuana’s therapeutic value next week in the US court of appeals in Washington, DC. This will be the first time in 20 years that a federal court will review marijuana’s classification as a schedule I drug—dangerous with no medical benefits, in the same arena as LSD and heroin.
“This is a rare opportunity for patients to confront politically motivated decision-making with scientific evidence of marijuana’s medical efficacy,” says Joe Elford, chief counsel to Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “[They] are finally getting their day in court.”
DEA Stalled 10 Years, Denied Scientific Evidence
Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) dismissed the marijuana policy reformers’ request to reconsider the drug’s classification, citing a five-year-old report from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). (The reformers initially petitioned the DEA nearly ten years ago, a process the ASA describes as stalling.)
In reply to the DEA’s denial, the ASA recently filed a lawsuit. The ASA claims that, among other things, the DEA “acted arbitrarily and capriciously, and without substantial evidence, in concluding that marijuana does not have a ‘currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.’” The DEA fell short in a number of other areas, too. As declared on the ASA reply brief:
- The DEA erred in failing to find that marijuana’s chemistry is known and reproducible
- The DEA and HHS erroneously failed o compare marijuana to other scheduled substances
- Qualified experts recognize that marijuana has medical use
THC more Effective, Less Harmful than Chemotherapy
Not only has marijuana been attributed to curing a 3-year-old boy’s brain cancer, it has a strong backing in the medical community as therapy for patients of lung, breast, and other types of cancer. THC actually induces apoptosis (cell death) in cancerous cells without harming noncancerous ones—more than can be said of harmful chemotherapy.
The reformers now have the support of the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the Federation of American Scientists, and the American Academy of Family Physicians to help them push for either medical cannabis access or its reclassification. The Court of Appeals will hear their case on October 16.