Archive for the ‘Drug Enforcement Administration’ category

Petition to Obama: Remove Marijuana From the Schedule of Drugs

January 22nd, 2014

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, alert_sidebar_ObamaPetition_v3the legal authority to remove marijuana from the DEA’s schedule of drugs. That authority should be exercised immediately.

Please sign our petition calling on President Obama to remove marijuana from the DEA’s schedule of drugs. Then share it widely with your friends and relatives, and encourage them to sign and share it, too.

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.

Even the most important witnesses get betrayed when the powerful are threatened

April 29th, 2013
The New York Times front page story by Ginger Thompson reports on the saga of Luis Octavio López Vega. For years, Lopez has been living underground in the U.S. He is former chief of police of Zapopan, a city of more than 1,000,000 near Guadalajara, and top aide to former Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebolllo (praised by ONDCP Director Barry McCaffrey for his bullet-proof integrity before he was arrested for his ties to a cartel).  Lopez was a key DEA informant. As the investigation of Gutierrez commenced, Lopez realized that he was a target for execution and went underground. The U.S. helped his family escape to the U.S.

For a dozen years, top Mexican officials have been trying to get the U.S. to arrest Lopez to turn him over to them, where it is likely, the Times suggests, that he will be tortured and killed. Yet the U.S. Marshals Service raided him -- but he spotted the surveillance and fled. He has been hiding out ever since.

This extensive report confirms our worst suspicions that considerations of justice are abandoned when powerful politicians and powerful criminals feel threatened, and when the trade and political interests of the U.S. may be affected. In this account, the decisions of the U.S. Attorney General and the Secretary of State about protecting a man who was offered protection by the U.S. for his life-endangering cooperation are swayed by political considerations. When does a government betray someone it has offered to protect?

Drug enforcement is such a peculiar species of law enforcement. No matter how zealously anti-drug agents, prosecutors or officials might be, they all recognize at some level, because the drug trade is so large and perpetual, that any individual load of drugs or any individual defendant is ultimately insignificant. Considerations of national security, national economics, and national politics -- if pressing -- will always trump any investigation.

Is this a form of corruption? Or is it a necessary exercise of discretion? Is letting a cartel leader go for reasons of state legally or morally different than letting a juvenile street dealer go for reasons of compassion and retaining the human capital of a community?

This Week in Weed: July 29th – August 4th

August 3rd, 2012

This Week in Weed

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The latest installment of “This Week in Weed” is now streaming on NORMLtv.

This week: A big drop in DEA marijuana plant seizures year over year and a new study illustrates how cannabis can help keep patients from the dangers of pharmaceutical opiates.

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DEA Involved In Killings Of Innocent Civilians In Honduras

May 17th, 2012
Phantom ReportU.S. DEA agents were involved in the shooting deaths of four innocent people, including two pregnant women, and the injury of at least three others in Honduras last weekKillings Scrutini

Appeals Court Accepts Challenge of DEA’s Marijuana Research Denial

May 10th, 2012
Rose Law Group PCUniversity of Massachusetts-Amherst Professor Lyle Craker has been trying for almost 11 years to get federal permission to grow marijuana for medical researchOn Friday, May 11, the U.

Hawaii Church Takes Cannabis Claims To Federal Appeals Court

February 20th, 2012
​The 9th Circuit last week heard arguments to let a Native American church get some marijuana replaced that federal drug agents confiscated and local police destroyed years ago.Michael Rex "Raging Bear" Mooney and the Oklevueha Native American Church of Hawaii filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in 2009 after the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized a FedEx package with about five pounds of cannabis in Tupperware containers inside, reports Purna Nemani at Courthouse News.Mooney said he planned to use the marijuana in certain religious ceremonies, specifically "lunar use" and "sweat lodge use." He contends that the DEA interfering with those activities constitutes a violation of his religious freedom. Continue reading "Hawaii Church Takes Cannabis Claims To Federal Appeals Court" >

Colorado Asks DEA To Reclassify Marijuana

December 29th, 2011
​The head of Colorado's Department of Revenue has written a letter to the director of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration asking that the U.S. government slightly loosen its strict controls on marijuana due to its "potential medical value."Colorado is the fourth state within the past few weeks to ask the DEA to reschedule cannabis from its current, most restrictive classification as Schedule I, which means the government regards pot as having a high potential for abuse and no valid medicinal uses. Heroin and LSD are also considered Schedule I substances under federal law. Continue reading "Colorado Asks DEA To Reclassify Marijuana" >

U.S. Atty.’s Office Gives Statement On WA Med Marijuana Raids

November 16th, 2011
​U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan of the Western District of Washington released a statement late Tuesday on the Drug Enforcement Administration's dispensary raids.The raids, which stretched across at least three counties and involved more than a dozen dispensaries, took many in the community by surprise, even some who had long expected such as move on the part of the federal government.The post on the U.S. federal government's Department of Justice website follows in its entirety: Continue reading "U.S. Atty.'s Office Gives Statement On WA Med Marijuana Raids" >

DEA Rejects Professor’s Bid To Grow Pot For Medical Research

August 25th, 2011
​One well-known professor's attempt to get federal permission to grow marijuana for research into its potential medical benefits has been -- once again -- rejected by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.The DEA has for years claimed that letting anybody other than the federal government grow marijuana would "lead to greater illegal use" of the herb, reports Robert Rizzuto at The Republican.Lyle Craker, a University of Massachusetts professor of plant, soil and insect sciences in Amherst, has been trying for 10 years to get a license to perform potentially life-saving research on medicinal cannabis. Continue reading "DEA Rejects Professor's Bid To Grow Pot For Medical Research" >

Since Feds Won’t Change Policy, We Must Change Federal Law

July 12th, 2011

The last two weeks have been full of announcements from the federal government about marijuana policy. None of them has been positive, and none of them should be surprising.

First, the Department of Justice stated that it retained the ability to prosecute anyone who cultivates, processes, or distributes medical marijuana, regardless of state law. As noted earlier on this blog, this is not really a change in policy, but it is certainly disappointing to see the Department of Justice is unwilling to publicly recognize the legitimacy of state medical marijuana laws and would rather have patients purchasing their medicine from dangerous, illicit dealers.

Then, in a move that shouldn’t have surprised anyone, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the agency tasked with determining the legal status of drugs according to the Controlled Substances Act, decided to keep marijuana as a Schedule I substance. This classification means that the DEA will continue to assert that marijuana has no accepted medical use and should continue to be a high enforcement priority. Never mind the growing mountain of peer-reviewed studies that show the medical efficacy and relative safety of marijuana. The DEA will only pay attention to government studies, which are not approved unless the goal is to find negative effects, not medical benefits. We should not expect them to reschedule marijuana in the foreseeable future, especially since marijuana enforcement is an easy source of cash and prestige. Americans for Safe Access is currently appealing the decision in federal court, however, and hopefully they will gain some traction on this point and force the DEA to recognize the evidence in support of medical marijuana.

All this was followed by the release of the National Drug Control Strategy, which basically states that the Obama administration will continue to use scarce resources to combat the use of marijuana through criminal justice means, as well as a slightly increased program of harm reduction (which the President has said was going to be his primary focus). The strategy admits that marijuana use is at its highest in the last eight years, yet wants to continue the same strategy it has been utilizing during that same period!

The new strategy also mentions medical marijuana and, while admitting that there may be some medical uses for individual components of marijuana, continues to say that it should pass through the FDA approval process. This would be nice, if we could get all the federal agencies whose stamps of approval are needed to actually allow such research. So far the efforts of those trying to go through the official research and approval process have been blocked. In addition, the new strategy claims that medical marijuana “sends the wrong message to children” and increases the likelihood of adolescents using marijuana. This point ignores the fact that in most medical marijuana states, teen use has actually decreased since passing medical marijuana laws. Data supporting this can be found in the Marijuana Policy Project’s Teen Use Report.

So what does all this mean?

It means that all we can expect from the federal government is support of the status quo. We might get some minor concessions here and there, and the fact that the Ogden Memo has been (mostly) followed by the DOJ should not be overlooked. However, we should not look to the federal government to change policy in any drastic way simply of its own free will. They must be legally compelled to do so.

This is why we don’t need statements of policy, nice as they may be. We need different laws. We need something much more binding than policy statements, which can be distorted and rescinded at any moment without legal backing. It is imperative that we convince our legislators to support bills that will weaken the federal government’s control over marijuana policy and enforcement.

Please contact your representative in Congress, and tell them to support H.R. 2306. This bill would remove the federal government’s ability to interfere with state marijuana laws and policies. Legal change is what we really need if we want to see positive change in federal behavior.