Texas senator disappointed with DEA scheduling of marijuana
A highly anticipated ruling came down from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) concerning the federal scheduling of marijuana, and the results have disappointed a Texas Senator.
Marijuana is currently a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no accepted medical use, has a high potential for abuse, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. This puts cannabis in the same category of danger as heroin.
The DEA has ruled that marijuana will be kept as a Schedule I drug, despite 42 states, including Texas and Washington, D.C., having passed some form of a medical cannabis program. They will however increase access to the plant for researchers.
This ends a decades-old monopoly on marijuana production for medical research and allows researchers to obtain cannabis from other sources, rather than solely from the federal marijuana growing operation at the University of Mississippi.
Texas State Senator José Menéndez, author of Texas’ first comprehensive medical cannabis bill, took serious issue with the DEA denying treatment to veterans, parents of children with epilepsy, cancer patients, and many other Americans who use the plant to treat medical afflictions.
“I’m extremely disappointed the DEA chose outdated stigmas over the care of medical patients. For years, I’ve heard veterans share horror stories of psychotropic drugs being over prescribed to treat PTSD and TBI. Veterans want out of this vicious cycle of prescribing dangerous drugs. They want to treat their trauma with safe medical cannabis,” said Senator Menéndez. “I don’t know how the DEA can look a cancer patient in the eye and say you don’t deserve cannabis to ease the chemotherapy and reduce your nausea.”
Senator Menéndez is Vice-Chair of the Senate Hispanic Caucus and represents Senate District 26 in San Antonio as a Democrat. He currently is a member of the Senate Committees on Higher Education, Criminal Justice, and Intergovernmental Relations.
Marijuana Policy Project also released a statement today concerning the announcement.
Forty-two states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and Guam have adopted laws recognizing marijuana’s medical value. A variety of prominent national and state organizations have also formally recognized the medical benefits of marijuana, including the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, the American Public Health Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Epilepsy Foundation, the British Medical Association, the California Medical Association, and the Texas Medical Association, among many others.
Government reports, research organizations, and studies published in medical and scientific journals have consistently concluded that marijuana is less addictive and less harmful to the body than alcohol. For example, according to a White House-commissioned report released in 1999 by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine: “[A]lthough [some] marijuana users develop dependence, they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs.”
“The DEA’s refusal to remove marijuana from Schedule I is, quite frankly, mind-boggling. It is intellectually dishonest and completely indefensible. Not everyone agrees marijuana should be legal, but few will deny that it is less harmful than alcohol and many prescription drugs. It is less toxic, less addictive, and less damaging to the body.
“We are pleased the DEA is finally going to end NIDA’s monopoly on the cultivation of marijuana for research purposes. For decades it has been preventing researchers from exploring the medical benefits of marijuana. It has also stood in the way of any scientific inquiries that might contradict the DEA’s exaggerated claims about the potential harms of marijuana or raise questions about its classification under Schedule I.
“The DEA’s announcement is a little sweet but mostly bitter. Praising them for it would be like rewarding a student who failed an exam and agreed to cheat less on the next one. Removing barriers to research is a step forward, but the decision does not go nearly far enough. Marijuana should be completely removed from the CSA drug schedules and regulated similarly to alcohol.”
Senator Menéndez plans to introduce legislation during the 2017 Texas legislative session to expand access to medical marijuana for patients and veterans.
A recent national poll from Quinnipiac University shows that 89 percent of U.S. voters support medical marijuana.