Just a few months after the Acting Administrator of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Chuck Rosengberg, left the majority of Americans feeling pleasantly surprised when he admitted that “heroin is clearly more dangerous than marijuana,” they are now calling for him to be fired.
Rosenberg took office in May following the resignation of Michele Leonhart, his predecessor of eight years, who was known for strongly supporting the federal prohibition of cannabis. When Rosenberg acknowledged that heroin and cannabis are not equal, it contradicted the fact that both are currently listed together, as Schedule I substances, under the Controlled Substances Act. The Schedule I classification, by definition, is reserved for only the most dangerous substances with high potential for abuse and no recognized medicinal value in the United States.
Contrary to what he said in August, Rosenberg denied the medicinal efficacy of cannabis while addressing the media in early November.
“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it’s not,”
“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.”
There are more than 1,000,000 registered patients in the United States alone, who would disagree with such a statement. Aside from the anecdotal evidence, studies also reveal that cannabis can provide significant medical relief in the treatment of many conditions, including ALS, cancer, and arthritis, and the United States government even holds a patent regarding the medical efficacy of the plant. In 2015, with nearly half of the United States having approved medical marijuana legalization measures, it is difficult to deny the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
On Friday November 20, a group of medical marijuana patients, advocates and supporters hand delivered the petition, containing more than 103,000 signatures, to the DEA headquarters in Washington D.C..
“There is no doubt in my mind that my son Jagger is still alive today because of medical cannabis,”
said Sebastien Cotte, who participated in the petition delivery.
“Cannabis has tremendously decreased the pain and seizures caused by his mitochondrial disease, while improving his quality of life. For our family, that’s no joke.”
The day before the petition was delivered, a group of bipartisan members of Congress submitted a letter to President Obama requesting that Rosenberg be fired for the same statement. The letter, signed by Earl Blumenauer, Dana Rohrabacher, Steve Cohen, Sam Farr, Barbara Lee, Ted Lieu and Jim McDermott, pointed out that Rosenberg’s statements reflect a “throwback ideology” which diminishes trust as it sends a “clear statement to the American people that the federal government isn’t listening to them.”
In response to receiving the petition, the DEA clarified Rosenberg’s statements to Foxnews.com:
“We’ve been trying to make clear that Acting Administrator Rosenberg indicated that marijuana should be subject to the same levels of approval and scrutiny as any other substance intended for use as a medicine.”
While it remains unclear whether or not Rosenberg will be ousted, there is no question that the majority of Americans believe that the federal prohibition of cannabis should end in one way or another. The most recent Gallup Poll found that 58 percent of Americans support the full legalization of cannabis, while the Harris Poll reported that 81 percent believe that the medical use of the plant should be legal.
photo credit: Marijuana Majority