Americans for Safe Access Petition the DEA to Provide Accurate Information

By Julia Granowicz for The Marijuana Times

It was only a few months ago that the Drug Enforcement Administration made their decision, once again, to deny petitions to reschedule cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act. However, in an official DEA document titled “Denial of Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana”, they made statements for the first time which actually contradict their fear mongering of the past, including: “At present, the available data do not suggest a causative link between marijuana use and the development of psychosis” and “Numerous large, longitudinal studies show that subjects who used marijuana do not have a greater incidence of psychotic diagnoses compared to those who do not use marijuana.”

While these statements do not necessarily mean that the DEA is in any way validating medical marijuana, it does mean that they have contradictory information provided on their official website – and the group Americans for Safe Access have filed a petition to the DEA asking them to update the information, or at least remove the misleading and incorrect information. They are able to do so because of a law called the Information Quality Act, also known as the Data Quality Act, which are guidelines set forth to ensure the “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information” that is distributed.

“We have taken this action to stop the DEA’s relentless campaign of misinformation about the health risks of medical cannabis in its tracks,” said Vickie Feeman of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, a Silicon Valley partner who’s pro bono counsel to the nonprofit petitioners. “We’re hoping this is a very straightforward petition. We’re going after specific statements they themselves have said in recent reports are wrong.”

The group has cited no less than 25 different mentions to marijuana by the DEA that contradict their most recent statements – including ones saying “Evidence of the damage to mental health caused by cannabis use—from loss of concentration to paranoia, aggressiveness and outright psychosis—is mounting and cannot be ignored.” That one in particular, contradicts the earlier statement from their denial of the petition where they agreed that there is no link or causation between marijuana and increased risk of psychosis. These sorts of claims are found throughout the DEA’s information, which is supposed to be the official government source of reliable information regarding cannabis.

“For years, the DEA has published scientifically inaccurate information about the health effects of medical cannabis, directly influencing the action —and inaction— of Congress.
We are simply taking the DEA’s own statements, which confirm scientific facts about medical cannabis, and analysis that has long been accepted by a majority of the scientific community.” American’s for Safe Access executive director Steph Sherer said in a statement on their official website. “Our request is simple: the DEA must change its public information to better comport with its own expressed views, so that Congress has access to the appropriate tools to make informed decisions about public health. Alternatively, ASA requests that the DEA simply remove the inaccurate statements or the documents in their entirety.”

At this point, the Drug Enforcement Administration will have 60 days to respond to this petition – and this time, the chances of them being able to deny the petition and take no action are very slim. The Information Quality Act was created specifically for instances like this, when the views of experts are not being reflected on official government websites and literature, where people are supposed to be able to look for the most reliable information.