Petition to Obama: Time to Say Yes to Marijuana

May 24, 2011

Toby Grant, International Business Times

A lawsuit filed May 23, 2011 at a U.S. Circuit Court by a coalition of advocates wants to force the federal governement to say yes to marijuana. The petition seeks to recognize cannabis as a drug with acceptable medical uses - and demands a speedy response in 60 days or less.

The administration has unreasonably delayed this issue for nine years since it was first filed, argues the lawsuit. A coalition of groups that include NORML and Cal NORML (Coalition to Reschedule Cannibis) argue that marijuana has "accepted medical use" and should be removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The Schedule I status indicates that medical pot is not federally accepted.

The petition was filed following the passage of Prop. 215 and half a dozen other state medical marijuana laws. Marijuana's schedule one status is the fundamental cause of ongoing conflict between state and federal marijiana laws.

Since the rescheduling petition was filed to the Drug Enforcement Administration on October 9, 2002, nine more states moved to remove the Schedule I status. California's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research completed five FDA studies showing marijuana to be medically effective for neuropathic pain and multiple sclerosis.

The DEA has since acted to further frustrate FDA development of marijuana by refusing to issue a license to the University of Massachusetts to establish a garden towards FDA-approved medical marijuana research.

"It is unacceptable for seriously ill Americans to wait a decade for their government to even respond to their petition for legal access to medicine to relieve their pain and suffering," remarked California NORML director Dale Gieringer.

"The government's unreasonable delay seriously impugns its competence to oversee Americans' health care. The administration should act promptly to address its obsolete and bankrupt policy in accordance with President Obama's pledge to put science above politics."

According to the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, both Bush and Obama's administration never responded to its 2002 petition to reschedule marijuana despite a formal recommendation in 2006 from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Joe Elford, lead counsel on the writ and Americans for Safe Access' top attorney, says "The federal government's strategy has been delay, delay, delay. It is far past time for the government to answer our rescheduling petition, but unfortunately we've been forced to go to court in order to get resolution."


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