Wednesday, March 15, 2006

THE FIGHT TO RESCHEDULE MARIJUANA

In 1970, the Nixon Administration passed the Controlled Substances Act that classified marijuana as a Schedule One drug.

President Nixon also ordered Mexican cannabis fields to be sprayed with toxic paraquat.

A commission in 1972 called for legalization of marijuana, but this was instantly rejected by the government. The organization.NORML launched a petition to have cannabis reclassified. That petition took 22 years to be reviewed and rejected. The second petition was launched by Jon Gettman and High Times magazine in 1995. This was dismissed on a technicality 7 years later.

The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis launched a third petition in 2002. The Department of Health and Human Services has to issue a ruling on the petition by 2007.

The Coalition includes the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis; California NORML; the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws; Iowans for Medical Marijuana; Gettman and High Times; as well as Patients Out of Time.

Patients Out of Time (POT) are the Virginia-based organizers of the Fourth National Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics to be held in Santa Barbara, California on April 6-8, 2006. POT represents five IND patients who still receive medical pot from the U.S. government, under a program started during the Carter administration.

Cannabis is lumped with heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and qualuudes as a Schedule One drug, meaning that it "has a high potential for abuse, "has no currently accepted medical use," and exhibits a "lack of accepted safety.under medical supervision."

By comparison, morphine, cocaine, and methamphetamine are Schedule Two, meaning that they have a currently accepted medical use.

If cannabis is rescheduled to at least Schedule Two, its medical uses will be more easily accessible.The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) opposes rescheduling cannabis. DEA officials quote the 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that concluded that "smoked marijuana should generally not be recommended for medical use." The DEA conveniently omits mention of other parts of this IOM report. For instance, the report also says that "the accumulated data indicate a potential therapeutic value for cannabinoid drugs, particularly for symptoms such as pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation." It specifically says that "cannabinoids would be moderately well suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS-wasting."

The IOM had more qualms about the negative effects of smoked marijuana rather than the effects of the drug itself. Even the DEA indirectly admitted that cannabinoids are therapeutic, when they classified Marinol, the synthetic THC drug, as Schedule Three.

Overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the DEA still insists that cannabis is not therapeutic, but POT has been instrumental in getting 13 Nurses Associations, including the prestigious American Nurses Association, to call for rescheduling of medical marijuana.

The oldest and largest health organization in the U.S., the American Public Health Association, followed suit, as did the legislatures of the 11 states that have legalized the use of medical cannabis within their borders.

POT representative Al Byrne says that the government has done a poor job of defending marijuana's Schedule One status, and that he and other rescheduling proponents believe that the case for rescheduling has already been made.

For further details, please visit the POT website, at http://www.medicalcannabis.com/.

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