In October 2002, a group of medical marijuana advocacy organizations, called the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, asked the DEA to make marijuana more available for research and medical use.
Currently, marijuana is grouped along with substances like heroin in “Schedule One.” This classification ensures that medical access to cannabis is illegal, and places severe restrictions on medical pot research.
The group wants cannabis placed in a less restrictive schedule so doctors can prescribe it, so state laws that have legalized med-pot will not conflict with federal prohibition, and so that research will be easier to conduct.
The group presented its request in the form of a legal petition, that officially asks the DEA to consider a body of pro-marijuana scientific evidence. Much of the evidence and reasoning in the petition was put together by marijuana researcher Jon Gettman, PhD.
Gettman had previously sent the same petition to the DEA himself, but last year the agency and a federal court rejected his petition. They claimed that because Gettman himself is not a med-pot user, he did not have proper “standing” to demand consideration.
The Coalition came together when Gettman aligned himself with a variety of individuals and non-profit organizations, including the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis, Americans for Safe Access, California NORML, the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Iowans for Medical Marijuana, Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative, and Patients Out of Time.
In April 2003, the DEA notified the Coalition that the agency has accepted the group’s petition as a legitimate administrative request, and that the agency will evaluate the group’s evidence and arguments.
“We don’t know how long it will take them to review what we’ve put together, or how fair they will be in considering it, but now that they have accepted the validity of the petition, they have to do the review,” explained Al Byrne of Patients Out of Time. “This means that, at the very least, they have to look at all the evidence, and then if they want to continue to have marijuana on Schedule One, they have to provide compelling evidence to counter our evidence. The truth is on our side, because marijuana is clearly an effective medicine.”
? For more information: www.drugscience.org