Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 10:23 a.m.
To the great dismay of stoners and medical marijuana activists everywhere, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington D.C. Circuit ruled yesterday that marijuana will remain illegal for doctors to prescribe as medicine. Specifically, the court agreed with lawyers for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) who argued that there are no "adequate and well-controlled" studies documenting any medical benefits of pot-smoking.
Joe Elford, the lead lawyer for Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy organization which has been struggling for years to remove marijuana from the government's list of addictive and otherwise harmful narcotics, blasted the court's findings. "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," Elford said. "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 current battle over pot's inclusion on a list of drugs such as peyote, LSD and Ecstasy (although strangely not methamphetamine or heroin) that have no medical value goes back to 2002, when the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis
, a group that included ASA, filed the original petition to have marijuana rescheduled. It took nine years for the DEA to respond in late 2011, at which point the DEA rejected the petition
, something that now looks as the first evidence that Obama intended to crack down on the medical marijuana industry.
ASA plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but is also calling on both Congress and the President to unilaterally end the war on weed. (Since Colorado and Washington State passed laws legalizing recreational pot smoking on the same day Obama was re-elected, his administration is now weighing how to respond.
"The Obama Administration's legal efforts will keep marijuana out of reach for millions of qualified patients who would benefit from its use," Elford argued. "It's time for President Obama to change his harmful policy with regard to medical marijuana and treat this as a public health issue, something entirely within the capability and authority of the executive office."
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