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Medical Marijuana Coalition Presses DEA for Response to Rescheduling Petition as Senate Holds Confirmation Hearings on Administrator Michele Leonhart

Daily Dose 2010-11-16 0 comments

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2010 / PRNewswire via COMTEX

Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings begin this week for Leonhart as Obama's nominee for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Leonhart has lead the DEA on hundreds of para-militiary style raids against medical cannabis patients and providers.

A national coalition of medical marijuana advocates is renewing their demand to the Drug Enforcement Administration to act on an eight-year-old petition to reschedule marijuana for medical use as the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee holds confirmation hearings for interim DEA administrator Michele Leonhart this Wednesday, November 17, 2010.

The rescheduling petition offers a unique opportunity to narrow the ever widening gap between federal and state medical marijuana laws. Last week, Arizona became the 15th state to legalize medical use of marijuana. Medical use of marijuana was first approved by California in 1996. However, the intervening years have seen no movement by DEA officials to revise obsolete regulations against medical marijuana.

The marijuana rescheduling petition, filed by the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis in 2002, presents the Obama administration with a rare opportunity to reclassify marijuana by removing it from the most restrictive schedule in the Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana is currently a schedule I drug, meaning that it has no accepted medical use and is only available for research under the most restrictive conditions provided by federal regulations. Recognition of marijuana’s accepted medical use by 15 states would enable the DEA to place marijuana in a less restrictive schedule, enabling increased research, patient access, and establishing a federal regulatory context for state medical marijuana programs.

Federal rescheduling is supported by the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, and the American Public Health Association. Rescheduling is necessary to implement the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has also recognized that marijuana is used medically under state laws and directed the DEA and U.S. Attorneys not to prosecute individuals for such use in these states. In addition, recent studies by the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research have documented marijuana’s effectiveness in treating a variety of ailments.

A final decision on the rescheduling petition is supposed to be made by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). As acting DEA Administrator, Michele Leonhart has had the rescheduling petition on her desk for three years but has so far failed to respond. “It’s time to end the delay,” says Coalition spokesman Jon Gettman, adding, “The government has had eight years to consider this petition, during which the evidence for marijuana’s medical efficacy has only grown.”

The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis includes the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), California NORML, the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, High Times, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), New Mexicans for Compassionate Use, Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative, and Patients Out of Time.

To arrange interviews with Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis spokespeople, please call Jan Carlos Byl, Ph: 202-320-9492, or email Dale Gieringer at .

SOURCE Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis