On Wednesday DEA Chief Chuck Rosenberg called the medicinal benefits of smoking cannabis “a joke,” ignoring countless patients and numerous advancements made in research of the plant.
“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it’s not,” Rosenberg said, according to CBS. “We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine — that is a joke.”
As more and more states follow Colorado and Washington’s lead of legalizing marijuana, the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency begs Americans not to mix up medicinal marijuana and legalizing recreational use.
“There are pieces of marijuana — extracts or constituents or component parts — that have great promise” medicinally, he said. “But if you talk about smoking the leaf of marijuana — which is what people are talking about when they talk about medicinal marijuana — it has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine.”
When asked about his personal opinion on cannabis, Rosenberg explained, “I don’t recommend it, but there is other stuff in our society that is dangerous that is perfectly legal.”
These comments come with the unveiling of the DEA’s 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, which indicates that drug use is on the rise for everything besides cocaine. Another unfortunate statistic revealed is that over 120 people die everyday as a result of drug overdoses. It goes on to beware of dabs, warning that “with potency levels far exceeding those of leaf marijuana, pose an issue of growing concern.”
Cannabis is medicinally legal in 23 states and Cannabidiol (CBD) treatment is allowed in 17 others, making it available in 80% of the United States. CBD is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid that brings relief to anxiety, insomnia, psychosis, and certain forms of epilepsy. For patients that don’t need the high associated with THC, certain strains have been genetically modified to contain a majority of CBD.
Recreational cannabis is legal in five parts of the United States; Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC. On Tuesday, voters in Ohio rejected a ballot measure that called for the legalization of medical and recreational possession and use.
The ballot initiative in Ohio was “a weirdly written statutory scheme,” according to Rosenberg. He doesn’t see it as a representation of what’s to come in other states, since it was an off year election.
“I don’t know that there are any great lessons to draw from it,” he added.