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Did you know that it is illegal for federal agencies to distribute false information? Well it is, and the DEA has been doing just that with information regarding medical cannabis. So, last week, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), represented by the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, filed a petition with the Department of Justice (DOJ) demanding that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) immediately update misinformation about cannabis.
But we didn’t stop there…
The DEA has 60 days to respond to our petition, but we think it’s important that the new President and 115th Congress are given valid information on cannabis. So, through a Change.org petition, we are asking President Obama to make one of his last actions in office to instruct the DEA to immediately correct the information regarding cannabis.
What is the Information Quality Act?
ASA filed its petition to the DEA under the rules of the Information Quality Act (IQA, aka Data Quality Act), which requires federal agencies 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.”
The petition 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. In this document, the DEA admits that the gateway theory, long-term brain damage, psychosis, and other alleged harms caused by cannabis are not supported by science, and yet they continue to distribute this false information.
Why does this matter?
Federal and state lawmakers utilize DEA information on cannabis to make decisions regarding their stance on medical cannabis legislation. Many times, lawmakers will not move forward on legislation because the are concerned about medical cannabis leading to other drug use (the gateway theory), long-term brain damage, and psychosis even though there is no scientific basis for these claims. If we can remove these myths from conversations with lawmakers, the conversation can focus on the science and not false anti-cannabis propaganda. You will not find ONE advocate for medical cannabis who has not heard legislators use at least one of these falsities in denying support on this issue. Forcing the DEA to correct them would give advocates the ability to say, unequivocally, “That is not true, and the DEA has admitted that as well,” effectively removing it from the conversation.