Drug Enforcement Administration chief Chuck Rosenberg says the decision is rooted in science. Rosenberg gave “enormous weight” to conclusions by the Food and Drug Administration that marijuana has “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States” and by some measures, it remains highly vulnerable to abuse as the most commonly used illicit drug across the nation.
“This decision isn’t based on danger. This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine,” he said, “and it’s not.”
Marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, alongside heroin and LSD, while other, highly addictive substances including oxycodone and methamphetamine are regulated differently under Schedule II of the law. But marijuana’s designation has nothing to do with danger, Rosenberg said.
In a letter to the petitioners, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and New Mexico nurse practitioner Bryan Krumm, Rosenberg said doctors are responsible for treating patients, but the FDA makes decisions about drug safety: “Simply put, evaluating the safety and effectiveness of drugs is a highly specialized endeavor.”
Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, said in a statement that the decision was disappointing.
“President Obama always said he would let science — and not ideology — dictate policy, but in this case his administration is upholding a failed drug war approach instead of looking at real, existing evidence that marijuana has medical value,” he wrote.
Most Americans support legalization, Angell wrote, and the federal government should at a minimum leave regulatory decisions to the states.
Drug enforcers insist they are supportive of efforts to advance scientific research on marijuana. The DEA said it has “never denied” an application from a researcher to use lawfully produced marijuana in a rigorous medical study, and Rosenberg pointed out that research continues on a …