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Reality Check: What The Feds Get Wrong About Marijuana

Some government agencies consider marijuana the worst drug on the planet and even claim there is no such thing as medical marijuana. 

Cannabis can’t be federally legalized and used for Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medical research until it is rescheduled from its Schedule 1 designation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

There it is listed in that schedule: marijuana, the worst illegal drug on the planet, in one of five distinct DEA-invented categories, along with heroin (15,482 overdose deaths in 2017) and other heinous illegal drugs.

It’s worse than all Schedule II drugs on the list, including cocaine (13,942 overdose deaths in 2017) and fentanyl (3,700 overdose deaths, including fentanyl analog used to sedate large animals).

Reality check: There were 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control. There have been 92 cases of caffeine overdose deaths reported, and it’s not listed on the DEA schedule. Neither is alcohol.

RELATED: 3 Marijuana Myths That Need To Be Debunked Immediately

No overdose deaths from marijuana — not in 2017, and not in nearly 6,000 years of human consumption.

That head-scratching scheduling kerfuffle seems to confuse the DEA as well, which is the organization that put it there. Check this out from Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the DEA, in a letter to the governors of Washington State and Rhodes Island: “Schedule I includes some substances that are exceptionally dangerous and some that are less dangerous (including marijuana, which is less dangerous than some substances in other schedules). That strikes some people as odd.”

the dea still doesnt acknowledge all the good things that marijuana offers
Photo by Eric Kayne/Stringer/Getty Images

So, the DEA is saying that there is a sub-category within this “distinct” Schedule 1 controlled substance designation for marijuana? Yes, that is odd.

How cannabis got there is another story just as funky, involving President Richard Nixon and racism, as told by Fresh Toast contributor John Hudak in an article for the Washington Post.

RELATED: The DEA Has Finally Taken Down The Marijuana Myths From Its Website

There are also statements by another federal agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), that there is no such thing as medical marijuana in part because it doesn’t meet five criteria of “currently accepted medical use.” HHS Secretary Alex Azar reportedly double-downed on the no-such-thing gig at a press conference in Ohio.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams also said there is no such thing as medical marijuana in June, 2019, at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

federal court denies review of deas marijuana extract rule
Photo by OlegMalyshev/Getty Images

This probably comes as a surprise to the over 3 million medical marijuana patients in 33 states that have some form of legalized medical marijuana, including new medical marijuana states like Oklahoma, with 200,000 medical marijuana patients registered as of October, 2019 (in a state with a population just shy of 4 million) 15 months into their legalization program, and is now handling over 700 patient license applications each week.

But check the state’s website, and the first line of a marijuana fact sheet: “Medical marijuana does not exist.” Umm.. huh?

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It appears that the DEA, the HHS and even a state government with a booming medical marijuana revenue generation machine are all apparently getting it wrong. But hey, they are open to more medical research to prove cannabis is truly medicine, and that can only be done using DEA-approved cannabis of poor quality that takes years for qualified researchers to get because, well, it’s a dangerous Schedule 1 drug in a sort of sub-category of not being that dangerous.

“Folks might be surprised to learn that we support this type of research,” Rosenberg wrote. “But, we do.” Unsaid between the lines: Good luck with that.

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