U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced a bill Tuesday that would change federal law so that the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), commonly known as the “drug czar,” is no longer prohibited from studying the legalization of marijuana and no longer required to oppose attempts to legalize marijuana for medical or broader adult use.
Specifically, H.R. 4046, the Unmuzzle the Drug Czar Act of 2014, would amend the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998 to remove the following language from the obligations of the director:
(12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of [the Controlled Substances Act] and.take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that –
(A) is listed in schedule I of section 812 of this title; and
(B) has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;
Rep. Cohen and other members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform slammed the ONDCP during a hearing last week. Rep. Cohen chided the office for failing to address the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s obstruction of research into the medical benefits of marijuana. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) criticized it for relying on marijuana “propaganda.” ONDCP Deputy Director Michael Botticelli drew criticism for refusing to acknowledge that marijuana poses less potential harm to the consumer than heroin or methamphetamine.
The DEA has gone rogue. First, an agent describes marijuana regulation in Washington and Colorado as “reckless and irresponsible,” contrary to the president’s assertion that it’s “important for it to go forward.” Now, DEA administrator Michele Leonharthas criticizedPresident Obama for, accurately, saying marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol to the consumer. In fact, the science says marijuana is dramatically safer than alcohol, for both the consumer and society.
This is the same person who once refused to answer the relatively simple question of whether marijuana is less harmful than heroin or crack cocaine. Her repeated refusal to recognize clear scientific evidence undermines the president’s mandatethat “science and the scientific process guide decisions of [his] Administration.” She’s got to go.
In a profile published this week by The New Yorker magazine, President Barack Obama acknowledged the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol for the consumer. Yet federal law classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, a category the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules.” It’s time for that to change.
The Controlled Substances Act gives the executive branch, led by President Obama, the legal authority to remove marijuana from the DEA’s schedule of drugs. That authority should be exercised immediately.
The president clearly recognizes that marijuana is safer than alcohol — which is not a scheduled drug — so he should do everything he can to ensure our federal laws reflect that fact. Actions speak louder than words, and it’s time for the president to take action.
Sign our petition now and tell President Obama to remove marijuana from the DEA’s schedule of drugs. Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and it is time for our government to start treating it that way.
Yesterday, we told you about an amendment to H.R. 1947, “the farm bill,” that would allow universities and colleges to cultivate industrial hemp. We asked you to call your representatives and help pass this amendment, and you came through! Earlier today, by a vote of 225-200, the House adopted the amendment. Despite the full bill being voted down because of partisan differences, this is a big victory.
Why is it so important? First,the DEA lobbied hard against us and lost. This is perhaps the first time that Congress has listened to arguments from the DEA and advocates for marijuana policy reform, then sided with us. Second, even though this bill won’t pass, there’s a good chance the amendment will get inserted into other legislation now that the full House has approved it.
Here’s the bottom line: the tide is turning. No longer do members of Congress blindly listen to the DEA and ignore advocates. We’re making real progress, and with your help, we can continue building support for further reforms.
Just this week, DEA agents raided two medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego. The raid came one day after the owner of one of the facilities testified at a city council hearing on regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries.
Ironically, it also comes as the Obama administration announces their new drug control strategy, which they call a “21st century approach to drug policy.” To hear them tell it, we’re now focused on treatment and prevention rather than arrests and prosecutions. Of course, that’s not true, and no one knows that better than medical marijuana providers in California and elsewhere. Fortunately, there is a way to change all that.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act. If passed, his bill would reschedule marijuana, recognizing its medical value, and prevent the DEA from going after patients, doctors, or dispensaries.
It’s vital that your representatives in Congress know that you support medical marijuana and that people who provide doctor-recommended medicine to sick people are not criminals. Please write your elected officials today, and when you’re done, forward this to friends so they can do the same.