<p>Tony Newman 646-335-5384<br />
Michael Collins 404-539-6437</p>
Today, the DEA announced that it was not rescheduling marijuana, in effect refusing to recognize marijuana's medicinal benefits. But in what is viewed as a victory for the marijuana reform movement, the DEA said that it was ending its monopoly on marijuana research.
“Keeping marijuana in Schedule I shows that the DEA continues to ignore research, and places politics above science," said Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “In reality, marijuana should be descheduled and states should be allowed to set their own policies."
One move that was positive was eliminating obstacles to research. "Ending the DEA-enforced NIDA monopoly is a very welcome move that will enable more research," said Collins.
For decades, the DEA has promoted an unjustified monopoly on research-grade marijuana for use in federally-approved studies – which effectively made it impossible for scientists to put marijuana through clinical trials to demonstrate it meets FDA standards for medical safety and efficacy. Marijuana is the only substance that DEA has prohibited from being produced by private laboratories for scientific research. Although the DEA licenses multiple privately-funded manufacturers of virtually all other scheduled drugs, it currently permits just one facility – operated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – to supply marijuana to scientists. And NIDA has a long track record of obstructing medical marijuana research – by manufacturing intractable delays, providing poor quality research material, and not providing marijuana for multiple FDA-approved studies. The announcement today should change that reality.
The DEA has been forced to respond to Congressional movement on marijuana. The CARERS Act, sponsored by Senators Booker, Paul, and Gillibrand, contains provisions to end the DEA-mandated NIDA monopoly. Last year, the Obama Administration removed other research barriers that CARERS sought to eliminate.
“Marijuana prohibition ruins thousands of lives every year through meaningless arrests – disproportionately impacting people of color. Thankfully, voters in numerous states are legalizing marijuana through ballot initiatives. The next Administration must move quickly to end federal prohibition, and undo this destructive and racially-biased policy” added Collins.
DPA Fact Sheet: Medical Marijuana (English/Spanish)
DPA Fact Sheet: Removing Marijuana From the Controlled Substances Act