WASHINGTON — Despite ample evidence pointing to the therapeutic, non-addictive qualities of marijuana, the new head of the Drug Enforcement Agency wants to keep it legally classified alongside heroin and other highly addictive substances.
“If we come up with a medical use for it, that would be wonderful. But we haven’t,” declared Chuck Rosenberg, the acting head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, in a Sept. 5 interview with Fox News.
This surprising denial of medical science came in response to a question posed by James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for the network. He asked Rosenberg whether it was time to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, considering two of the past three presidents of the United States have admitted to using the substance recreationally.
“Yeah, I don’t think so,” responded Rosenberg.
A growing body of scientific research suggests marijuana is not just beneficial in treating many conditions, but also far safer than tobacco.
Despite changing laws in some states, federal laws like the Controlled Substances Act ensure that the government can continue to prosecute cannabis users and producers.
“I’ve been very clear to my [regional] special agents in charge: If you have a big marijuana case, if that in your jurisdiction is one of your biggest problems, then bring it,” Rosenberg told Rosen.
Even where marijuana is legalized or decriminalized, users can still suffer from federal regulations. Although the government is promising not to go after medical marijuana patients and growers in states with medical marijuana laws, Counter Current News recently reported on a Vietnam War veteran with lung cancer who was denied access to pain medications because of his use of marijuana.
The Controlled Substances Act guides many of these restrictions. The act is meant to rank drugs based on their abuse potential versus their potential medical benefit. Each drug is assigned to one of five ranks, with lower numbers meant to represent more dangerous substances.
For example, oxycodone, the controversial pharmaceutical painkiller, is located on Schedule II, meaning it can be prescribed by doctors under certain conditions but its legal use is heavily restricted. Marijuana, meanwhile, is on Schedule I, which is reserved for drugs that, according to the federal government, have no accepted medical use.
Marijuana shares its Schedule I designation with heroin, a highly addictive drug whose use is becoming an epidemic in the United States, with the CDC warning in July of a record number of deaths from heroin overdoses. Rosenberg made headlines that some month, when he admitted that marijuana is “probably” not as dangerous as heroin. He followed it up with a statement that “heroin is clearly more dangerous than marijuana” at a September press briefing.
In a recent interview with MintPress News founder Mnar Muhawesh, activist Rick Simpson argued that the pharmaceutical industry is heavily invested in keeping marijuana illegal because its utility against everything from chronic pain to cancer threatens their profits.
And marijuana is legally classified as a hallucinogen, a designation it shares with other Schedule I substances that may also have medical benefits. For example, sufferers of extremely severe migraines called “cluster headaches” can sometimes find relief through hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms, and many researchers are reconsidering the potential psychiatric uses of guided use of LSD.
In his interview with Fox News, Rosenberg admitted that alcohol prohibition in the 1930s was a failure. Although he says does not personally imbibe, he admitted, “I’m not going to impose that on anyone else.” Still, Rosenberg remains adamant that marijuana prohibition will continue at the federal level.