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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Judges Deny Marijuana Reclassification

Marijuana advocates across the country took another blow by the federal government with the U.S. Appeals Court refusing to overrule the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no accepted medical uses this week, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In retaliation the marijuana advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access, had sued the government, claiming the DEA had a duty to reexamine the medical evidence, and to reclassify marijuana as a drug with medical benefits for those suffering and in pain, the article notes.

The judges on the court deferred to the judgment of federal health experts, stating they required more evidence before they could reclassify the drug, a typical response on the matter.

“To establish accepted medical use, the effectiveness of a drug must be established in well-controlled, well-designed, well-conducted and well-documented scientific studies [with] a large number of patients. To date, such studies have not been performed,” according to a DEA document that was quoted in the court decision.

Judge Harry Edwards wrote the judges did not dispute that “marijuana could have some medical benefits,” but added they were not willing to overrule the DEA because they had not seen large “well-controlled studies” that proved the medical benefits of marijuana.

“To deny that sufficient evidence is lacking on the medical efficacy of marijuana is to ignore a mountain of well-documented studies that conclude otherwise,” Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access, said in a news release. “The Court has unfortunately agreed with the Obama Administration’s unreasonably raised bar on what qualifies as an ‘adequate and well-controlled’ study, thereby continuing their game of ‘Gotcha.’”  

The group has said it will appeal to the Supreme Court.

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