If There’s No Such Thing as Medical Marijuana, How Do We Have Medical Marijuana?
Editor’s Note: For a discussion on how medical marijuana could be responsibly regulated, see the Keynote address from the 2014 National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference here.
From: Notice & Comment | A Blog from the Yale Journal on Regulation and the ABA Section of Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice
by Sam Halabi
This week, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) responded to petitions requesting a redesignation of marijuana for the benefit of scientific research. The DEA refused, citing, somewhat tautologically, the fact that there are no scientifically valid and well-controlled clinical trials demonstrating benefits for certain modalities of marijuana for specific medical indications. DEA affirmed marijuana’s continued status as an illicit schedule I controlled substance.
The bigger mess, begging for stronger Congressional action, is the shadow regulation of state-approved medical marijuana participants. While marijuana cultivation and distribution remains illegal under federal law, an October 2009 memo from Deputy Attorney General David Ogden to United States Attorneys stated that while “[t]he prosecution of significant traffickers of illegal drugs, including marijuana, . . . continues to be a core priority . . . , pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your states on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” Congress adopted Section 538 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of2015, Pub. L. 113-235, 128 Stat. 2130 (2014) C’2015 Appropriations Act”), which prohibited the Department of Justice from expending any funds in connection with the enforcement of any law that interferes with states’ ability to ‘”implement [their] own [laws] that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”