Drugs

DEA Forced to Scrub Misleading Info on the American Medical Association's Position on Marijuana

Activists get the DEA to remove obsolete information from its website claiming that the American Medical Association (AMA) still opposes medical marijuana

On November 10th, the AMA reversed its long-held position that marijuana has no acceptable medicinal value and adopted a new policy position favoring medical marijuana. The AMA called on the U.S. government to reconsider its current classification as a Schedule I substance. (The government categorizes drugs into “Schedules.” Four of the five actually regulate the use of substances, but Schedule I drugs—such as marijuana, heroin and LSD—are completely banned.)

However, a week after the announcement of this historic reversal, the DEA still hadn’t removed mention of the AMA’s old, anti-medical-marijuana position from its website.

So, the advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an organization of cops, judges and prosecutors calling for the legalization and regulation of all drugs, created an action alert asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to order the DEA to scrub the bogus statements from the web.

After just one day of emails from activists, the information disappeared. One might conclude this quick response was the handiwork of Obama’s tech-savvy team, if it weren’t for the other government websites still spreading misinformation about the AMA's position on medical marijuana. Both the White House "drug czar's" office and the DEA's “scare the children” youth website still contain inaccurate statements about AMA's position on medical marijuana.

Of course, the drug policy reform advocates at LEAP won’t settle for anything less than the whole truth and are still urging membersto send more letters to Attorney General Eric Holder and White House "Drug Czar" Gil Kerlikowske, asking them to stop spending taxpayer money to spread false information about medical marijuana.

Meanwhile, other public health officials are going even further than the AMA in criticizing current drug policies. For example, on October 18th, the California Medical Association endorsed a resolution stating that the criminal prohibition of marijuana, even for non-medical reasons, is a “failed public health policy.”

These bold statements from public health officials do more than buoy the hopes of drug policy reformers; they point to a clear trend of health officials joining ranks with the outspoken law enforcers at LEAP in saying that current drug policies aren't protecting the general health, well-being and safety of the public. The second-largest physician group in the country, the American College of Physicians (ACP) endorsed the use, reclassification, and further study of medical marijuana, making the case that the red tape surrounding the medical use of cannabis has obscured good science for too long.

Speaking of good science, the second in command at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Deputy Drug Czar Thomas McClellan, saidon November 18th: “It’s time to use science and common sense to direct our efforts — not ideology, not positions of the past, but a fresh look at what the data tells us. We also need the willingness to rethink old positions and particularly to change direction when the science says it’s time to change direction.”

McClellan’s statement is a reminder of President Obama’s inaugural pledge to construct federal policy informed by "the most complete, accurate, and honest scientific information."

Hopefully both President Obama and Thomas McClellan will honor their word, but if they don’t, they should at least know that LEAP and other watchdog activists are poised to help them do so.

Update:Less than a day after this piece was uploaded, the DEA changed the remaining claim on their website that the AMA still opposes medical marijuana, replacing it with a reference to the AMA’s call for a review of marijuana’s Schedule I status. Unfortunately, the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s site is still inaccurate. Please take action and demand full accountability from our federal government on this issue.

Charmie Gholson is a staff writer for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
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