Dozens of states may have legalized medical marijuana, but the federal government still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I Controlled Substance with no known medical applications. For years, two federal agencies have clashed over which of them should determine marijuana’s medical potential by running an independent, peer-reviewed study on the potential health benefits of cannabis consumption. With no end to the disagreement in sight, a libertarian think tank has sent a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) asking it to clear the issue.
As it stands, the scientific literature used to deny petitions to reschedule the controversial plant does not recognize its medical potential. But with more studies finding that cannabis does have some medical potential and more than 30 states allowing their residents to use cannabis for medical purposes, the Competitiveness Enterprise Institute (“CEI”) believes it is time to review the scientific literature — and the group has the law on its side. However, both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) say conducting this review is the other agency’s responsibility.
HHS provided the DEA with the scientific evidence used to uphold marijuana’s classification in Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, and according to CEI, this data is flawed. It does not account for the several therapeutic uses that have been approved by states with medical cannabis programs, CEI says.
Independent scientists should be given a chance to go over this data and report whether or not they believe the scientific claims initially made by HHS — that cannabis has no medical potential — is true or not. By conducting a federal peer review of the data, the agencies may find enough evidence to strengthen the push for federal marijuana rescheduling, the group says.
In its letter to the White House, the CEI stated that both the DEA and HHS had failed in their duties. For starters, HHS should have had the scientific evidence peer reviewed before sending it to the Federal Drug Administration as it would have been used as a basis for regulatory action. Additionally, the CEI says, the DEA shouldn’t have published the HHS report without conducting a peer review of the data if the HHS didn’t. For the past five years, the letter argued, cannabis has been prohibited based on incorrect scientific information.
This isn’t the first time the Competitive Enterprise Institute has raised this issue. In June 2019, the CEI argued that HHS should withdraw its scientific evaluation of marijuana’s potential medical benefits and inform the public that the said information was inaccurate and shouldn’t be used for regulatory purposes until the agency conducted a proper peer review.
Once that review is completed, chances are that cannabis could be removed from the most restrictive CSA category and more patients would be willing to use advanced plant medicine devices such as the RYAH Smart Inhaler made by RYAH Group Inc. (CSE: RYAH).
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