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Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has filed a legal petition with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to correct misinformation regularly distributed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) about cannabis. ASA's petition uses the provisions of the Information Quality Act (IQA aka Data Quality Act) to ask DOJ to change its public statements about cannabis to reflect current scientific understanding.
- What is ASA's IQA Challenge?
- What is the Information Quality Act?
- Can the President influence this process?
- How does this Petition Help Patients?
What is ASA's IQA Challenge?
Americans for Safe Access’ 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,(DPR)” issued August 12, 2016.
In the DPR, the DEA itself made statements that directly contradict information in “The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse” and “Drugs of Abuse.” In ASA’s IQA petition, we are calling out 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.
Elected officials rely on the DEA to provide them fact-based information about medical cannabis to inform policy making. Success in correcting this information will mean politicians can no longer use the misinformation about (1) the gateway drug hypothesis (2) irreversible cognitive decline in adults; and cannabis causing (3) psychosis or (4) lung cancer to deny patients access to medical cannabis.
What is the Information Quality Act?
The Information Quality Act (IQA) requires federal agencies to use reliable science when making regulations and disseminating information. Specifically, the IQA requires that the information circulated by federal agencies is fair, objective, and meets certain quality guidelines. It also permits citizens to challenge government information believed to be inaccurate or based on faulty, unreliable data. Business, consumer, environmental and conservation groups have all used the IQA to pursue changes in federal policy.
Can the President influence this process?
Yes. A sitting President can direct to the DOJ to grant the requests in ASA’s IQA petiton.
How does this Petition Help Patients?
The debate about medical cannabis is at a gridlock due to federal government intransigence. Success in correcting this information will mean politicians can no longer use the misinformation about (1) the gateway drug hypothesis (2) irreversible cognitive decline in adults; and cannabis causing (3) psychosis or (4) lung cancer to deny patients access to medical cannabis. This is potentially game changing for patient advocates moving forward. When patients are working to pass a new medical cannabis program or fix an existing one in their home state, they will often hear politicians, regulators, and anti-medical cannabis organizations put forth statements about the gateway theory and the other disproven harms.
If the IQA is granted, patients will be able to say that the DEA had to remove all references to these four pieces of misinformation because the are not supported by science. In other words, approved the IQA would essentially be an admission from the federal government that these four items are in fact myths. State officials will no longer be able to use these myths to prevent patients from having safe and legal access to medical cannabis.
ASA intends to break through the gridlock and advance the dialog on medical cannabis so that federal policy can be established that respects the rights and needs of patients. Ultimately, ASA seeks to end the current harm inflicted on patients as a result of misguided federal policy, which prioritizes politics over science.
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