DEA Says No To Medical Marijuana

On July 8, 2011 a petition to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II or III drug was rejected for the third time in US history.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration rejected a nine year old petition to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug like heroin to a category which would open the door for widespread medical marijuana cultivation, distribution and usage.  Supporters of petition for medical marijuana asked the DEA to take into consideration research the shows the drug is effective in treating pain for diseases such as glaucoma, cancer and multiple sclerosis.   In a letter accompanied by 37 pages of supporting documents to the petitioners, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart stated that the reclassification was denied because cannabis has “a high potential for abuse” and that it “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”  Leonhart writes, “At this time…the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.”  The DEA concluded that marijuana has no accepted medical use, because its chemistry is not known and adequate studies have not been done on its usefulness or safety.  The ruling has set medical marijuana supporters into action as they gather information in preparation for the appeals process.

Medical Marijuana and DOT Regulations.

The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation – 49 CFR Part 40, at 40.151(e) does not authorize “medical marijuana” under a state law to be a valid medical explanation for a transportation employee’s positive drug test result. Therefore, Medical Review Officers will not verify a drug test as negative based upon information that a physician recommended that the employee use “medical marijuana.”  Please note that marijuana remains a drug listed in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.  It remains unacceptable for any safety‐sensitive employee subject to drug testing under the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana.



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