Overweening Generalist

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Drug Report for Late October 2012: Americans for Safe Access vs. DEA

This case, in which the three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals, DC Circuit, began hearing oral arguments 15 days ago, as I write this. The decision is not expected for "months." Many of you are all over this stuff, but the basic deal is this: Unistat's federal government "schedules" all drugs. A Schedule One drug has "no currently accepted medical use," has a supposedly "high potential for abuse," has "no currently accepted medical use in treatment" in Unistat, and some Authorities at some point decided a Schedule One drug fails to meet accepted safety guidelines for people while under medical supervision.

These are the Banished of the Banned drugs. You have to go through extraordinary measures to try to get permission to study these drugs, even if you have the PhD or MD degree.

Ecstasy is Schedule One (in my learned opinion, it should not be, not even close).

Heroin is Schedule One (this is maybe the only drug on Schedule One that I think someone could make a somewhat plausible argument that it fits all the criteria above, although I find the idea of Schedule One drugs - which means the government, with very, very rare exceptions - will not allow any scientists to do research with the drug, which I find contrary to the spirit of scientific inquiry in general).

LSD is Schedule One (although, increasingly, since around 1995, scientists have gotten permission to do studies and have found some profoundly human uses for the drug, particularly with the terminally ill; LSD should be studied much more, in my opinion).

Cannabis is Schedule One also. Yes, that's right: the Federal Unistat government has classified marijuana as on par with heroin and LSD. "No currently accepted medical use."

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) thinks it has a welter of new scientific data to present to the court. The history of sane people trying to get the government to reschedule the drug to Two, Three, or Four, is long and evermore maddening the more you read it. Since 1972 people on the side of Sanity (I admit my blatant bias here) have tried to get pot rescheduled under the Controlled Substances Act, only to be kept waiting for decades (I'm not exaggerating here), only to be summarily dismissed by the DEA.

IF...if the Court says the DEA dismissed the arguments from previous petitioners for frivolous reasons, the Court could find that Cannabis be rescheduled to something like...well, how about Schedule Three? Among the drugs on that level: Marinol, which has as its active ingredient THC, perhaps the main molecule that gets you high in Cannabis! Why is Marinol Schedule Three while Cannabis is Schedule One? Welcome to the Profound Idiocy and All-Out Fascist Meanness of the DEA!

Anyway, a rescheduling by the Feds would relax the Gestapo-like tactics, which have gone on at least since the time of Nixon, but really stepped up and never really let down, from Ronald Reagan to Obama. The States that voted to allow medical pot would probably not be subjected to the Inhuman tactics by the Cop/Prison Industrial Complex.

I'll link to a bunch of articles that discuss this potentially liberating moment for our future; I confess I see people like DEA head Michele Leonhart and the DEA's lawyer arguing against its rescheduling, Lena Watkins, as on the side of Neverending Human Misery in Many Forms. Anyone else working to lessen Prohibition of these magical flowers is, to me, on the Side of the Angels. More classic proponents of Neverending Human Misery in Many Forms are named in this article, in which DEA folk and Drug Czars warn that, if cannabis decriminalization bills are passed by voters in a number os states, the purveyors of Neverending Human Misery in Many Forms will crack down hard.

Because I do not consider Unistat much of a Free Society anymore, I have grown hardened soul-skin; I cannot get my hopes up that the Appeals Court will do the sane thing. But I do confess that, like a prisoner unjustly locked up who thinks someone outside will find evidence that they did not commit the crime and they can finally go free: I catch myself hoping.

For an enlightening microcosm of this whole story, listen to a 21 minute clip from Ira Flatow's NPR Talk of the Nation's "Science Friday" show, in which, just a week or so before the hearings got underway, two experts - Dr. Bertha Madras (For Neverending Human Misery) and Dr. Donald Abrams (Side of the Angels), debate the topic: HERE.

I hope you all have (or had) a sexy, cell-gladdening Halloween!

Articles about the hearings:
Marijuana Scheduling Case Heard By US Appeals Court
US Court of Appeals Hears Arguments to Reschedule Cannabis
Appeals Court To Review DEA's Dismissal of Cannabis Rescheduling Petition
Summary of Oral Arguments in Federal Cannabis Rescheduling Case
Here's the best thing I've seen yet:
Powerful Court Quietly Takes Marijuana Case That Could Shatter Federal Prohibition Laws, by Steven Wishnia, one of our best writers on the War On Certain People Who Use Certain Drugs


Anonymous said...

Look, seriously, unistat, marijuana at schedule A along with Heroin et al!?

In england it has never been classified above a B, it was scheduled class C from 2004 to 2009 along with Ketamin etc, now it is rescheduled class B, along with speed (again, against all advice to the contrary; source: Wikipedia). Though this state of affairs is not dissimilar to Unistat, it is at least slightly less unsane.

I don't currently smoke marijuana (I have done in the past), but it seems ridiculous to even consider that it being as much as a “threat” as Heroin, or even Alcohol for that matter. This whole classification and scheduling seems like a way to balance profits and popularity, rather than a real reasoned/scientific decision.

Good post, Michael; I don't know how you keep it up, quantitatively and qualitatively.

p.s. Really like that you have a picture of an English Bobby getting chest deep in marijuana plants.

michael said...

Thanks, Andrew.

The pic was chosen because I didn't know the context: was it stoner humor? A gal dressed up like English Bobby for harvesting season? An actual Bobby surveying a "crime" scene? It's not the usual pot-leaf pic or the kind of centerfold that High Times has shown. Or some gorgeous naked stoner chick with pot leafs placed just so, some outrageously artistic bong suggestively aimed at her Naughty Haughty Bits.

Anyway: yea: the pot scene's legality in Unistat is soooooo fucked up it's hard to really get a grip on it.

There's a completely insane right-wing televangelist named Pat Robertson here. The idiocies of his pronouncements in the form of "I have a direct line from God and he told me to tell you all that God allowed 9/11 to happen because we have the Bill of Rights still, and that gays are allowed to live..." Etc: Even Robertson has come out for legalization/decriminalization of pot!

The FarFar Right Wing Congress whose only goal is to go against Obama, no matter what (at the expense of the suffering public): every one of them had to sign a pledge not to raise taxes...or they would be defeated by a non-elected little troll named Grover Norquist.

Norquist has come out in favor of legalizing/decriminalization.

Glenn Beck, the paranoid Right's favorite conspiracy monger, who seems to me to be recycling anti-Communist John Birch Society hysteria, only now it's all "the secular liberals" or "Obama" instead of commies? He's for legalization/decriminalization.

There are many, many other levels of insanity here, but I think you touched on it when you mentioned "profits." It's not difficult to see that tobacco and esp alcohol producers see pot as a competing threat. There's a mayor of a large midwestern city who's fairly liberal; his constituents would seem to be in favor of legalizing pot. But he's against legalization. Why? He started a large brewery. That's where he made his money.

Eric Wagner said...

Great post.

One may not even think about Schedule Zero drugs.

michael said...

You're right: in a little-known factoid of DEA bureaucracy, Schedule Zero drugs are un-thinkable, they are so "bad."

The DEA has a long history of in-fighting on this. For example, when NORML petitioned the DEA to reschedule cannabis from Schedule One to..something lower, in 1972, the DEA didn't consider it for years and years. (As Ring Lardner would've said: "You could look it up.")

Finally, in 1988, DEA administrative law judge Francis Young recommended that cannabis be rescheduled, because it was "the safest therapeutically active subject known to man." But a DEA bastard higher-up overrode this BLIP of insanity amidst the fascist Biz-As-Usual in the DEA and quashed this.

The same warring factions have been fighting about Schedule Zero drugs: Young and his camp saying that there need not be such a Schedule, the inability to say anything about what drugs are in it being but one of many problematic areas.

It's been whispered that huffing ammonia from bucket (the so-called "Washerwoman's High") is a Schedule Zero, but coincidentally, the person who whispered this was visited by the DEA the next day and is rumored to have a Suite at GITMO, so go figure.