Another day, another controversy. Medical marijuana activists are rightly upset over comments DEA head, Chuck Rosenberg, made to reporters last week.
During a Q&A, he talked about his stance on medical marijuana.
“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal because it’s not. We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine — that is a joke.”
Right, so you want to have an intellectual debate prefaced with medical marijuana is a joke. Want to clarify that bit a more?
“There are pieces of marijuana — extracts or constituents or component parts — that have great promise,” he said. “But if you talk about smoking the leaf of marijuana — which is what people are talking about when they talk about medicinal marijuana — it has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine.”
I’m with the activists who point to study after study showing it helps with chronic pain, muscle spasms and other ailments. In fact, here’s an analysis of 79 studies from JAMA pointing to “moderate-quality evidence to support the use of cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic pain and spasticity.”
Damn, here he is making a blanket statement and along comes science…
Should Rosenberg Resign?
No. I get the frustrations of medical marijuana activists. They have turned to change.org demanding his resignation. As of today, the petition has gathered nearly 16,000 signatures.
Nothing wrong with voicing frustration at the DEA head, but it’s empty. The DEA works like every other agency in the executive branch. It enforces the law. Well, sometimes…
23 states and DC have passed some form of marijuana legalization. Specific medicinal uses all the way to recreational. One problem, none of the state laws trump federal law.
And yes, the DEA is a federal agency. Chuck Rosenberg isn’t a fan of marijuana. Even if he was on the side of legalizing it for everyone, he can’t do anything. His job is to enforce the law as directed by the President.
Notice the raids have quieted down on dispensaries across the 23 states? Rosenberg may think it’s a joke, but the latitude given to the states is telling. Politicians make bombastic statements, but state after state is flipping green.
The FDA is moving to give researchers more room to study the drug. The JAMA study above? 79 studies. That’s it. In 2013, 16,000 people overdosed from opioid painkillers. How many died from overdosing on marijuana? Oh right… Zero.
Other studies have shown a decrease in painkiller overdose deaths when medical marijuana was accessible.
It isn’t just pain where marijuana plays a significant role. Seizure disorders have been treated with various strains. Who knows what researchers could unlock in the future?
Is it time to open the doors and make it legal? For medicinal use? Definitely. Recreational? Soon, but it needs tight regulation to prevent a wild west of potent strains and no oversight. In Colorado and Washington, the results are still early, but you cannot call it a failure.
Is it a joke? Maybe to Chuck Rosenberg and others. Should he resign or be fired? Of course not.
To the people medical marijuana helps? They aren’t laughing. And it’s a shame they get targeted. But, the tide is turning. The American people are with them. State governments are increasingly with them. The Federal government? One day you’ll wake up to a simple voice vote that finally ends the debate.