By Steve Elliott for Toke Signals
Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research, on Monday filed a petition with the Department of Justice (DOJ) demanding that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) immediately update its misinformation about cannabis.
The petition is being filed under the rules of the Information Quality Act (IQA, aka Data Quality Act), which requires administrative agencies like the DEA to devise guidelines that ensure the “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information” they distribute and to “[e]stablish administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency that does not comply with the guidelines.”
ASA’s complaint cites 25 violations under the IQA, alleging that the DEA website currently contains inaccurate statements that do not meet informational standards required by the law. Making matters worse, the DEA continues to distribute statements about the efficacy of medical cannabis and its risks, which have been refuted by the DEA itself in the recent “Denial of Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana,” issued August 12, 2016.
“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, an attorney with the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. “We are proud to represent Americans For Safe Access pro bono in this matter to protect the rights of patients throughout the country who could be harmed – and have already been harmed – by the DEA’s refusal to not only acknowledge the scientifically proven benefits of medical cannabis, but also its deliberate attempt to inflate and publicly misrepresent the facts about the potential harms of cannabis use.
“For years, the DEA has published scientifically inaccurate information about the health effects of medical cannabis, directly influencing the action —and inaction— of Congress,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of ASA. “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.
“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,” Sherer said. “Alternatively, ASA requests that the DEA simply remove the inaccurate statements or the documents in their entirety.
“The overwhelming majority of the objective scientific studies — including studies cited by the DEA in the “Denial of Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana” (DPR) — disprove the DEA’s statements,” Sherer said. “Because the DEA itself made statements in the DPR that directly contradict information in “The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse” and “Drugs of Abuse,” it is undeniable that this information lacks utility and objectivity.
“The presentation of scientifically unfounded information alongside scientifically accurate information obscures and diminishes the utility of the accurate information and can jeopardize public health,” Sherer said. “Moreover, the disingenuous presentation of inaccurate information makes it difficult for public officials and medical providers to make informed decisions regarding the viability of medical cannabis treatment options.
“This is something President Obama can correct before he leaves office,” Sherer said. “We cannot have this misinformation continue to inaccurately influence the minds of Congressional representatives and government agencies.”
- View the petition here: safeaccessnow.org/doj_iqa
- For more information on the Information Quality Act: safeaccessnow.org/what_is_the_information_quality_act
- Denial of Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana: safeaccessnow.org/dea_denial
- DEA’s The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse: safeaccessnow.org/dea_danger
- DEA’s Drugs of Abuse: safeaccessnow.org/dea_abuse