Did the Veterans Administration Unseat Marijuana From Schedule I?

On July 22, 2010 the Department of Veterans Affairs issued aDirective, specifically allowing VA patients the right to use Medical Marijuana without fear of federal interference. “Fourteen states have enacted laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana,” the Directive observes. “Medical conditions associated with the use of medical marijuana include, but are not limited to: glaucoma, chemotherapy induced nausea, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and chronic pain.”

The new Directive does not allow VA doctors to prescribe Marijuana to their patients, but for the first time, a federal agency has acknowledged that Marijuana has medicinal applications, and pledged not to interfere with patients who have a doctor’s prescription in the 14 states where Marijuana is accepted under law.

This is a critical point, and one that should get everyone’s attention: Is Marijuana still a Schedule I drug?

To be a Schedule I drug, a substance must meet 3 qualifications:

  1. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision, AND
  2. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, AND
  3. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.

With respect to Item 1, Safety: Marijuana ingestion has never been listed as a cause of  death; it is physically impossible for a human being to die from purposely ingesting too much Marijuana.

Item 2, the “No currently Accepted Medical Use” clause is clearly invalid across the 14 stateswhere medical marijuana is permitted by law: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. By definition, in each of these states, Marijuana does indeed have a “currently accepted medical use.”

Finally,  Item 3: Potential for Abuse. I submit that a rational adult might rightly conclude that many drugs — including alcohol and cigarettes — have a far higher potential for abuse than Cannabis. By the same token, given that at least 42% of the US population has tried Marijuanaat least once, it is evident that Marijuana should not be classified or grouped together with drugs like heroin, cocaine or meth-amphetamines.

In order to be a considered a Schedule I drug, Marijuana must fit each of these three classifications.

But, on July 22, 2010, an agency of the U.S. Federal Government directed its medical staff to accept the fact that Marijuana has medical value in the states where it is legal.

According to the definition of Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act, if a drug has any medical value, then it cannot be a Schedule I drug.

The precursor to this recent VA Directive may have been Gonzales v. Oregon, a 2006 Supreme Court decision — the first major case under Chief Justice John Roberts — wherein the Court held that state health care laws trump the power of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to enforce federal drug laws.

In light of Gonzales v. Oregon, the VA’s acknowledgement that Marijuana has medical value now seems inevitable:  for all practical purposes, Marijuana is no longer a Schedule I drug.

Game Over.

– Article from Mens News Daily on August 19, 2010.



  1. Anonymous on

    I like this part of the first linked page;

    “Based on these precedents, then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles promulgated what some call the “Dulles Doctrine” that treaties, executive agreements, and votes in the United Nations, could effectively amend the U.S. Constitution and expand the powers of the federal government without limit.

    However, this misunderstanding about whether the constitution could be amended through the making of treaties was denied in the case of Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1957):

    “This court has regularly and uniformly recognized the supremacy of the constitution over a treaty” [Reid, at p. 17].

    “… when a statute which is subsequent in time is inconsistent with a treaty, the statute to the extent of conflict, renders the treaty null.” [Reid, supra, citing Geofroy v. Riggs, 133 U.S. 238, at p. 267]

    “No agreement with a foreign nation (no exec. orders, no Pres. directives, no “accords” etc.) can confer power on Congress or any other branch of government, which is free from the restraints of the constitution” [Reid, supra].

    Despite the decision in Reid v. Covert, however, the dominant faction in the federal government continues to maintain the Dulles Doctrine, arguing that Reid only applied to infringements on rights recognized in the Constitution, and did not prevent expansion of federal powers through treaty, even though one of the fundamental rights recognized in the Tenth Amendment was the right not to have government exercise powers not delegated to it.”

    So basically the feds just made up their own rules and called it the Dulles Doctrine. I rather doubt that this doctrine trumps the Constitution, or the court ruling. Federal drug laws are a direct violation of the 10th Amendment, in addition to never being authorized in any other part of the Constitution. That’s how arrogant US politicians are now. They think the Constitution is just a rough guide, subject to their arbitrary editing. Somebody has to stop these idiots, and SOON. Marc Emery is being imprisoned for made up federal laws. The arrogance of US politicians doesn’t only harm US citizens but also those of other countries. It’s sheer lunacy. Emery was extradited for unconsitutional laws. How can Canada even legally do that and what would the price be to compensate him for it afterward?

  2. Anonymous on

    How does the US federal government justify its ability to prosecute Cannabis offenses? In the Constitution there is only one possible thing that they would be able to cite and it is this, in Section 8: “To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;”

    They will probably maintain that Cannabis prohibition is part of the “Law of Nations”, because it is part of three UN conventions on narcotics and/or psychotropic substances. Well, that’s not what Law of Nations means, as you can read about here http://www.constitution.org/cmt/law_of_nations.htm . Here’s an excerpt;

    “The meaning of “Offenses against the Law of Nations”
    by Jon Roland, Constitution Society

    Art. I Sec. 8 Cl. 10 of the Constitution for the United States delegates the power to Congress to “define and punish … Offenses against the Law of Nations”. It is important to understand what is and is not included in the term of art “law of nations”, and not confuse it with “international law”. They are not the same thing. The phrase “law of nations” is a direct translation of the Latin jus gentium, which means the underlying principles of right and justice among nations, and during the founding era was not considered the same as the “laws”, that is, the body of treaties and conventions between nations, the jus inter gentes, which, combined with jus gentium, comprise “international law”. The distinction goes back to Roman Law.

    Briefly, the Law of Nations at the point of ratification in 1789 included the following general elements, and prosecution of those who might violate them:

    (1) No attacks on foreign nations, their citizens, or shipping, without either a declaration of war or letters of marque and reprisal.

    (2) Honoring of the flag of truce, peace treaties, and boundary treaties. No entry across national borders without permission of national authorities.

    (3) Protection of wrecked ships, their passengers and crew, and their cargo, from depredation by those who might find them.

    (4) Prosecution of piracy by whomever might be able to capture the pirates, even if those making the capture or their nations had not been victims.

    (5) Care and decent treatment of prisoners of war.

    (6) Protection of foreign embassies, ambassadors, and diplomats, and of foreign ships and their passengers, crew, and cargo while in domestic waters or in port.

    (7) Honoring of extradition treaties for criminals who committed crimes in a nation with whom one has such a treaty who escape to one’s territory or are found on the high seas.

    And, although it was not yet firmly established with all nations in 1789,

    (8) Prohibition of enslavement of foreign nationals and international trading in slaves.

    No subsequent additions to the “law of nations” could have the effect of expanding the delegated powers under the Constitution. Ratification froze those powers at the moment of ratification. Only the amendment procedures provided under the Constitution can add to, subtract from, or modify them.”

    So where is the amendment authorizing Congress to make or enforce narcotics legislation? It’s not in the Constitution anywhere. In conclusion, the US federal government is violating the Constitution by prosecuting Cannabis offenses, and probably any other drug offenses. The states could do so, but if they choose not to, like California and others have, then the feds have no authority whatsoever to go in there and arrest or prosecute their citizens. Under what section of the Constitution do they presume that right? Just like with alcohol prohibition, Cannabis prohibition would require an amendment to the Constitution. In absence thereof, only the individual states can make such laws and it really doesn’t matter what the UN may say. Their scheduling of Cannabis will not hold up to the slightest scientific scrutiny anyway. So next time you’re prosecuted by the US federal government ask the Prosecutor to show the court the Constitutional amendment allowing for federal drug laws, especially when they are contrary to state laws. See how long he goes through his brief case before admitting that no such amendment exists and that therefore Congress has no authority whatsoever to prosecute you.

    You can also read about the Law of Nations here, by William Blackstone http://www.lonang.com/exlibris/blackstone/bla-405.htm . In short, it is “natural or universal law”, things that are obviously wrong. Cannabis use is not such a thing because it is only unjust to certain politicians and has no significant ill effect on mankind whatsoever at face value, which probably explains why it’s not in the 10 Commandments, or even the 1000 Commandments. So what if a bunch of politicians from several nations agree that Cannabis is the same as heroin. Does that make it so? I think not. All that does is show how appallingly ill informed the average politician in the modern world really is. Actually, it’s not even ignorance but willfully ignoring the scientific recommendations. That’s more like arbitrary law making, which is 100% in violation of the fundamental principles of justice. How the hell are politicians still getting away with that shit?

  3. one12alpha on

    In a state with no medical marijuana, the “loop hole” in essence does not exist. The basis of the loop hole is the “accepted” medical use, which is one of the qualifying factors in the controlled substances act. In reality, the “loop hole” isn’t there any way… Marijuana is still schedule 1. This decision by the VA has done little more to the law than make a gray area…some how more gray.

    Still, in states where medical use is accepted, you need a prescription to be legally using marijuana “medically.” Those with a prescription in these states SHOULD BE (but some times are not) protected from arrest, by police from the state level down…so long as they are within the parameters of theirs states medical law. Without a prescription, you still violate law by possessing a schedule 1 substance….which is kinda bass ackwards (to say its schedule 1, yet accept medical use.) Though, most states where marijuana is accepted as medicine, the charges tend to be less for non medical possession than in states with out medical marijuana…given you don’t have more than the threshold amount. That is the amount where you are automatically considered to have the intent to distribute. This amount varies from state to state, you should check your local laws. You can still fall victim to the distribution charges with a smaller amount, if you fall into a few sets of circumstances. Such as; having a scale, having multiple individually wrapped amounts, having the containers for such (baggies etc), having a “drug ledger”, etc.

    Really all this directive does is allow veterans access to a better medicine without fear of losing VA benefits… which is good, right?

  4. jsnsoc8 on

    Carl Olsen and Iowans for Medical Marijuana brought this legal argument to the Iowa Board of Pharmacy in 2008. They asked the BOP to rule on whether or not marijuana has “accepted medical use in the United STates.” Now, based on the BOP ruling, marijuana is being removed from schedule 1 in Iowa.

    All fifty states can and should do this. Right now, Angel Raich is working with Carl to file a similar petition in Cali. Colorado is probably the best state to be doing this in, yet no one is doing it yet. An activist in Minnesota is drafting a petition for the MN BOP. Thank you Cannabis Culture for bringing more attention to this…now, can you please explain to people that INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS SITUATION??

  5. Anonymous on

    Well, I know it’s still illegal on the federal level, but what if I got charged with possession in a place like Arkansas where there is no medical marijuana. Could I use this “loop hole” as a way to get out of state trouble?

  6. one12alpha on

    It is still a schedule 1 drug in all fifty states. The controlled substances act is a federal law. Federal law applies to all states and territories.

    However, since 1996 when CA passed medical marijuana (back) into law, a loop hole was opened…sort of. By states accepting marijuana as medicine, it threw out one of the qualifying factors for marijuana being a schedule 1 drug…No accepted medical use in the US. But, those charged for marijuana by federal agency cannot use “medical use” as a defense, because of marijuana’s classification.

    Now, the FDA holds to one word in their position on marijuana as medicine….Smoked. They tout there is no medical value in SMOKED marijuana…. So let us medical marijuana activists push the use of vaporizers, removing their vale of smoke.

  7. CannabisAmbassador on

    I agree, everyone knows about it, I would say 70% of people have tried it. There is a huge huge industry that has already been built. The sad thing is that people who waited for the government to legalize are now out of the opportunity to play in the introduction of a new industrial age…the Cannabis Age.

    What we have now are mostly, not all but mostly the people who shunned the law and did it anyway getting deeply involved to the point of breaking the law, not just a medical cannabis patient having their medicine, but big players, knocking out the little guys daily….Its time to legalize for everyone..to give everyone the opportunity to participate, to bring hope to people, to help repair America.

  8. Anonymous on

    During the early and mid 1980s, Lt. Col. North was alleged to participate in organizing the transportation of cocaine and marijuana from the various sites in Central and South America into the United States as a means of funding the Contra rebels. Congressional records show North was tasked with finding funding “outside the CIA” after the Boland Amendment cut off funding for the Contras in October, 1984.[6]
    the cia ships the cocaine and cannabis into the usa by the tons including the heroin from afghanistan, then they turn around and put us in prison for smoking a joint???? appalling!!!! why is Mark Emery in prison??? he hurt no body!!!
    the war on drugs is a sickening lie and a complete hoax.

  9. Anonymous on

    Does this mean that marijuana is not a Schedule I drug in all fifthy states now?

  10. Brian Sumner on

    You want vintage medicinal Cannabis documents? We’ve got several of them at The.CannabisReEducationTeam.com – and find more vintage medicinal Cannabis documentation at AntiqueCannabisBook.com.

  11. undrgrndgirl on

    roxanne/unimed labs unseated cannabis from schedule I a decade ago with the release of marinol…the pdr (physicians desk reference; the bible of pharmaceuticals), says of marinol (trade name for dronabinol): “Dronabinol, detla-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), is naturally-occurring and has been extracted from Cannabis sativa L. (marijuana). Dronabinol is also chemically synthesized…” (1999 PDR, page 2751).

    the fact that naturally occurring delta-9-TCH is referenced in the description of synthetic delta-9-THC seems to me *proves* cannabis does, in fact, have medical use (there by rescheduling to at *least* a class II) AND the fact that marinol is a class III drug (except in oklahoma) should put whole plant cannabis at no greater than class III…

    i could go on to cite several pharmaceutically produced cannabis medications (that disappeared after 1937) and the fact that cannabis was in the u.s. pharmacopiea until the mid 1940s…but i don’t have all my data handy…

  12. Brian Sumner on

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the ‘Compassionate Investigational New Drug’ program started in 1978 qualifies as “currently accepted medical use in treatment” because as far as I know, “investigational new drugs” are not “currently accepted” as viable treatment for anything.

    That having been said, if I had to pinpoint the exact moment Cannabis fell out of Schedule I, it would be May 31st, 1985. On that date, the Food and Drug Administration approved Marinol brand Dronabinol, otherwise known as synthetic THC.

    And of course, let’s not forget the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ U.S. Patent #6630507, “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants”, issued October 7th, 2003. Federally-owned medical usage isn’t currently accepted, nooooo.

    But the nail in the coffin is the Drug Enforcement Administration’s own Administrative Law Judge, Francis L. Young’s September 6th, 1988 ruling in which he concluded,

    “Based upon the foregoing facts and reasoning, the administrative law
    judge concludes that the provisions of the Act permit and require the
    transfer of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II. The Judge realizes
    that strong emotions are aroused on both sides of any discussion
    concerning the use of marijuana. Nonetheless it is essential for this
    Agency, and its Administrator, calmly and dispassionately to review the
    evidence of record, correctly apply the law, and act accordingly.” …

    “The administrative law judge recommends that the Administrator
    conclude that the marijuana plant considered as a whole has a currently
    accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, that there is no
    lack of accepted safety for use of it under medical supervision and that
    it may lawfully be transferred from Schedule I to Schedule II. The judge
    recommends that the Administrator transfer marijuana from Schedule I to
    Schedule II.”

    This ruling has been sitting on the desk of the DEA’s Administrator for the past 22 years!!!

  13. M. Sebastian Patrick on

    Knowing the U.S. government-they’d probably say that it was Schedule II in those fourteen states; but Schedule I in the other 36.

  14. Anonymous on

    It should have been removed from Schedule I when the government started shipping tins of pre-rolled joints grown at the U of Mississippi out to the 30 something patients that qualified for the program back in the 70’s.