Lawsuit Challenges Gov't to 'Stop Making False Statements' About Pot

The war against drugs has often been a war against the truth. A lawsuit filed today challenges the federal government's unyielding claim that marijuana has no efficacious medical use.

The lawsuit, filed today in federal court in Oakland, comes a week after the release of a controlled, clinical University of California, San Francisco study showing HIV patients who smoked marijuana found relief from chronic foot pain.

"We are asking the courts to weigh in on the science ... and force the government to stop making false statements about medical cannabis," said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access.

The ASA argues that the administration is ignoring science, a charge that has become depressingly familiar. While the Bush years have been particularly hostile to science, no administration has been willing to authorize serious research into the medical benefits of marijuana.

ASA in October 2004 had petitioned the Department of Health and Human Services and its subordinate Food and Drug Administration under the Data Quality Act, a 2000 law requiring information circulated by federal agencies to be fair, objective and meet certain quality guidelines. That law lets citizens challenge government information believed to be inaccurate or based on bad data; ASA's petition claimed the government has ignored scientific studies and medical consensus on marijuana's efficacy as medicine.

HHS denied the petition in 2005 and denied an appeal in July 2006. Those decisions are arbitrary and capricious, Elford said, and so Americans for Safe Access has been biding its time ever since to sue.

Given the deference that courts give to decisions made by executive agencies, challenging HHS will be difficult. Still, evidence is abundant that marijuana is medically useful, and the government's irrational decision to pretend otherwise might convince a court that HHS has failed to give responsible attention to the science that should underlie its judgments.

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    that isn't going to happen any (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 01:02:26 AM EST
    time soon either. once they admit the medicinal value of pot, that inevitably leads to the next question: if pot has medicinal value, why is it illegal to possess/use it in the first place?

    you just know no good (for paries with vested financial interests) can come of that!

    Most controlled substances (none / 0) (#4)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 07:45:30 AM EST
    have recognized medicinal value. Only Schedule I is reserved for drugs which the government declares to have no medicinal value in addition to high potential for abuse.  --Drugs on this schedule include:

    GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyrate)
    12-Methoxyibogamine (Ibogaine)
    Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)
    Heroin (Diacetylmorphine)
    MDMA (Ecstasy)  
    5-MeO-DIPT (Foxy / Foxy Methoxy / 5-methoxy-n,n-diisopropyltryptamine)
    Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD / Acid)
    Methaqualone (Quaalude, Sopor, Mandrax)
    2,5-dimethoxy-4-methylamphetamine (STP / DOM)
    2C-T-7 (Blue Mystic / T7)
    2C-B (Nexus / Bees / Venus / Bromo Mescaline)
    Cathinone (β-ketoamphetamine) (Khat).
    AMT (alpha-methyltryptamine)

    Drugs in Schedule II include cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, PCP and fentanyl-- all of which are obviously far more dangerous than marijuana but have recognized (if limited) medicinal value but also a high potential for abuse.

      Simply moving marijuana from I to II to allow for medicinal use by prescription would not make it any  more legal to manufacture, distribute or possess without proper permission than it is to for coke or meth or the opiates other than heroin.



    actually decon (none / 0) (#20)
    by cpinva on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 02:00:19 AM EST
    all of the drugs listed in sch. I have recognized, though limited, medicinal uses. so clearly that can't be why they're on that schedule. that the govt declares something so doesn't make it so.

    the govt can declare that day is night, day will still be day. the only drug i can think of, off the top of my head, that really has no medicinal use, is grain alcohol. and yet, i don't see it listed on sch. I. i wonder why that might be?


    well, UNDER THE LAW it does (none / 0) (#22)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 07:08:55 AM EST
     Heroin is an excellent  painkiller and is used in many other countries for legitimate medical treatment, but in this country it is against the law to use it --even by a doctor who believes it would be a better choice than morphine or some synthetic.

      Like it or not--LEGISLATURES make laws and the if the laws are not found unconstitutional the findings of the legislature control for legal purposes. Heroin being illegal despite the fact people might disagree with the law and the basis for the law  is no different than the MANY other laws that some people think are wrong and have no basis.

      I could argue quite persuasively that the law against me driving 85 MPH on an empty stretch of straight highway in perfect weather with perfect visibility in a perfectly maintained car should not be enforceable because it is objectively less dangerous than many other acts of drivers which are not illegal. The fact I am objectively correct does NOT render the law subject to successful challenge.



    alcohol has medical uses (none / 0) (#24)
    by roy on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 11:26:24 AM EST
    It's a blood thinner, a sedative, and a painkiller.

    Not only does the government lie about drugs, it outlaws telling the truth about drugs, at least in certain forums.  That's why you won't see any ads on TV telling you to (slightly) reduce your risk of heart disease by drinking wine in moderation.


    No (none / 0) (#25)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 11:34:46 AM EST
      it prohibits making claims about medical benefits of substances not subject to regulation as drugs by FDA/DEA.

      It is PERFECTLY LEGAL to write about, talk about or otherwise disseminate information regarding health benefits of alcohol (or herbal remedies etc.). it is only prohibited to make advertising or promotional claims in a commercial context.

      However, the people who sell alcohol and herbal remedies DON'T WANT to be regulated as drugs and actively sought exemption from the CSA and FDA oversight.

      Gallo can't run an ad saying 4 out of 5 doctors recommend drinking a glass of red wine a day, but those doctors are perfectly free to say it to their heart's content.



    We may be saying the same thing (none / 0) (#27)
    by roy on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 12:03:37 PM EST
    I was only talking about TV ads, based on this:

    Accordingly, ATF offers the following examples of labels or advertisements which it considers to be unacceptable pursuant to sections 205(e) and (f) and implementing regulations:

    (1) any label or advertisement which states that consumption of the alcoholic beverage will enhance athletic prowess, performance at athletic activities or events, health or conditioning;

    I don't have a problem with that (none / 0) (#28)
    by Deconstructionist on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 12:31:58 PM EST
      Commercial speech may be subject to regulation despite the 1st Amendment as long as the regulation is rational and reasonably related to proper purpose. Public health and safety is a prooper purpose. We can all find certain specific instances with which we take issue but we have a government to reach a consensus compromisre as to the parameters of regulation.

      If one is a pure libertarian then all regulation is unwanted, but for most people the issue is where the lines should be drawn not whether there should be lines. Government, as is any human created system is imperfect, but if EVERY regulation that ANYONE opposed was therefore subject to elimination, it would be impossible to do anything.

      I doubt many people would object to government forbidding Exxon from promoting gasoline as a mood elevator.


    roy (none / 0) (#26)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 11:47:30 AM EST
    I left you a comment on the Voter ID thread yesterday, not sure if saw it. If you're interested, check it out.

    hemp is critical to the next energy paradigm (none / 0) (#2)
    by wrisky on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 01:56:10 AM EST
      Hemp is the greenest source for many industrial feedstocks (biomass, fiber, protein, etc). It will be needed to mitigate loss of petroleum based feedstock s currently in use.

      Sooner or later all these prohibitions must fall.

    The importance of this cannot be understated (none / 0) (#3)
    by SeeEmDee on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 07:34:57 AM EST
    The entire history of the Federal DrugWar from its' inception in 1914 has been plagued with a dearth of scientific information and a reliance upon pseudoscience, most of which was more than a little tinged with racial bigotry. But because that bureaucracy grew so large that it has it's own interests to look out for, it has resisted all challenges to its' legitimacy. It has been able to do so partly because the GAO gave the ONDCP license to lie to the American taxpayer (who foots the bill for it) about drugs. Those lies are based upon that pseudoscience and cherry-picked studies.

    Data from studies that disprove those 'facts' held by the bureaucracy as being valid are themselves ignored, or their 'methodolgy' challenged (a gub'mint way of calling the researchers liars). Lies like 'cannabis is a gateway drug' (disproved by the Institute of Medicine 1999 report), lies that it 'causes cancer' (disproved by the Tashkin report last year) etc. are ignored in favor of repeating the old, disproved information. Those who have purveyed this false information have been able to get away with it because they have never been penalized legally for doing so under oath.

    IMHO, a lawsuit such as has been filed by the ASA could very well have far-reaching ramifications, as did the Scopes trial of the last century. Which is why this can be expected to be fought tooth-and-nail; not only is a huge bureaucratic meal-ticket at stake, but imagine all the lawsuits that would result from all those people whose lives were ruined by the legal system, thanks to the lies told about cannabis. They'd want restitution, andf that restitution would further strain every governmental treasury.

    Actually.... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 08:09:11 AM EST
    The govt. did do a serious scientific study of my favorite plant back during the Nixon admin.

    But since the findings didn't jive with drug war BS, the report got buried.

    I hope the ASA is sucessful....c'mon Uncle Sam, the truth shall set you free!

    I've always (none / 0) (#6)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 08:29:17 AM EST
     thought that the propaganda concerning marijuana is ill-advised. Legal merits aside, I think that grossly exaggerting the effects and dangers of marijuana actually has an impact opposite of the intent.

      Rather than scaring people away from trying marijuana, i think it is far more likely that some people after trying marijuana and finding it nost as intoxicating, mind-altering, habit forming or health impairing as advertised then become more likely to try more dangerous drugs on the assumption that if the "authroities" lied about marijuana they are probably lying about the others too.


    good argument (none / 0) (#11)
    by peacrevol on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 11:53:17 AM EST
    but pot is the devil's weed. especially when used by blacks. they get all hopped up on this dope and are more prone to rape white women. these dope fiends lose control of their emotions and cannot control their actions. (Sarcasm Included)

    Lecturer: Do your children enjoy jazz music? For I am here to tell you that Cab Calloway, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, and the whole weed-blowing ginger-colored lot are merely masquerading as musicians and are, in fact, agents of evil. Reefer slows down the smoker's sense of time, allowing him to squeeze in unnecessary grace notes, giving this voodoo music the power to hypnotize white women into indulging in acts of unspeakable degradation.

    Parents: It's time for parents to take a stand / For the preservation of this great land / 'Till the things that scare us are burned or banned, / Or smashed to smithereens! / And once the reefer has been destroyed, / We'll start on Darwin and Sigmund Freud, / And sex depicted on celluloid, / And communists and queens!

    Lecturer: When danger's near, exploit their fear!

    Parents: The end will justify the means!

    --Reefer Madness


    Booze it up, Johnny (none / 0) (#14)
    by Dadler on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 12:18:52 PM EST
    Now, rationally explain why pot should continue to be illegal, while alcohol -- exponentially more addictive and dangerous and destructive to society -- should be legal.

    You can't.

    This entire "debate" is a hypocritical excercise in absurdity.  Prejudice is the ONLY thing informing the law right now.  Our puritan idiocy on full display.  The pilgrims loved their beer, after all.      


    Well despite (none / 0) (#15)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 12:42:08 PM EST
    the Pilgrims' (and many of the founding fathers') liking beer, wine and spirits the volstead Act implementing the 18th Amendment did make alcohol illegal in this country for about 13 years until ratification of the 21st and new legislation.  

       I find it difficult to ascribe a big business conspiracy or racial motive to that prohibition and I think the attempts to paint the prohibition of marijuana in the present day  to similar motives quite unpersuasive as well. "Puritanism"? OK, but the arguments that marijuana is illegal because petrochemical interests, big agriculture or whatever conspire to keep it illegal sounds silly to these ears.

       Certainly some of the propaganda of the Anslinger era had racial overtones but in the present day the association between blacks and marijuana as opposed to whites and marijuana is pretty much indistinguishable, and the ONLY times i ever hear it is coming from people from people raising it as a red herring to argue for legalization.

       The failed prohibition of marijuana has lasted much longer than the failed prohibition of alcohol primarily because marijuana although popular is nowhere near as popular as alcohol and the prohibition has caused less (albeit some) social disorder.


    meh (none / 0) (#19)
    by peacrevol on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 03:17:02 PM EST
    The failed prohibition of marijuana has lasted much longer than the failed prohibition of alcohol primarily because marijuana although popular is nowhere near as popular as alcohol and the prohibition has caused less (albeit some) social disorder.

    I disagree. It has caused more social disorder b/c it is illegal. There is no way to regulate its growth and distribution...so it makes it harder for minors to acquire. It also has put many of our able bodied youth in the slammer and condemned them to a life of being an x-con. Simple possession arrests for pot add up and can land you in the pokey. Then who's going to hire you? Now you have to flip burgers or push shopping carts or sell drugs to make a living. You cant get scholarships w/ certain drug offenses on your record, so the possibility of getting a decent job gets slimmer. It may be slightly ambiguous, but I think the social disorder is rampant due to pot prohibition.

    Certainly some of the propaganda of the Anslinger era had racial overtones but in the present day the association between blacks and marijuana as opposed to whites and marijuana is pretty much indistinguishable, and the ONLY times i ever hear it is coming from people from people raising it as a red herring to argue for legalization.

    The idea the Anslinger era started has been institutionalized to the point that we no longer even notice the racial overtones that survive. It's more prevailent probably in the south...but in some areas it's so bad that it's almost hard to miss. I've heard, on more than one occasion, white southerners say "sit around all day and smoke dope like a n****r". That tells me that many people in this world still associate pot use with people of color. The dominence of blacks and latinos in prison makes it tough to ignore the coincidence. I'm kind of like Columbo - "I don't believe in coincidences."


    Shrooms et al (none / 0) (#7)
    by squeaky on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 08:41:01 AM EST
    Psilocybin and other hallucinogens also have tremendous medical potential. Unlike weed, these drugs are also difficult to produce for home use so the pharmicutical industry would presumably lobby to legalize them for medical use. All research had been shut down since Leary popularized the drugs in the 60's.
    A report on the study, among the first to systematically assess the effects of hallucinogenic substances in 40 years, is being published online today by the journal Psychopharmacology. An accompanying editorial and commentaries from three prominent neuroscientists and a psychiatrist praise the study and argue that further research into such agents has the potential to unlock secrets of consciousness and lead to new therapeutic strategies for depression, addiction and other ailments.

    From the WSJ

    A study was just released by (none / 0) (#8)
    by kindness on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 09:35:05 AM EST
    UCSF which found that:

    National HIV/AIDS and advocacy groups including the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA) today called for congressional hearings in response to a new study from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) on medical cannabis and neuropathic pain, published in the peer reviewed journal Neurology. The study is the first of its kind in the U.S. in nearly 20 years to indicate the medical efficacy of cannabis.

    "This study validates the experience people living with HIV/AIDS and their doctors have reported for years- medical cannabis provides much-needed relief from pain and suffering"

    Decon (none / 0) (#9)
    by Che's Lounge on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 10:40:45 AM EST
    If I'm not mistaken, North Carolina created a Schedule VI on their own and placed MJ into it.

    Interestingly, I just lectured my Pharm students on the Controlled Substances Act, and when I pointed out that MJ was Class I, they were shocked and indignant almost to a person. That really dings the credibility of the teacher. I told them I'm just the messenger. It made for some lively discussion for a few minutes.

    My readings show that Nixon never even read the report you cite. More's the pity.

    I miss Nixon these days.

    that's correct (none / 0) (#10)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 10:47:23 AM EST
     I'm not sure if any other state has done so. Most states simply amend their schedules to conform with the Feds when the eds change something.

    In NC, VI means low level potential for abuse and no recognized medicinal use, so it's kind of the inverse of what we are talking about here wanting the medicinal use legitimized.



    Worse than that (none / 0) (#23)
    by jackl2400 on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 09:59:54 AM EST
    Nixon called the pot commission chairman, PA Gov Ray Shafer, into his office and flatly told him that his report was going to recommend that pot be prohibited before giving him a set of presidential cuff links and showing him the door (really).  The report came out recommending the opposite.  It's pretty clear Nixon did read the report, Che, and he was pissed.  Gov Shafer never got the federal court appointment he was hoping for as payback for taking on the hot potato issue in the first place.

    Nixon was a piece of work.  Google "Nixon" "marijuana",  "jews", "blacks" and "tapes" and follow the links. You can read the actual transcripts of Nixon's rantings about pot, captured by his secret taping system, the same one involved in Watergate. I'd paste them here, but I'd screw up the HTML and get the comment removed.  

    The Google search term gives you an idea about Nixon's thoughts about marijuana.


    Your info is wrong, Bith Nixon and Reagan... (none / 0) (#12)
    by Bill Arnett on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 11:58:37 AM EST
    ...ordered studies on pot, Reagan in 1981, the year before he declared "The War on Drugs.

    Synopsis HERE.

    Reagan tried to suppress the study he had ordered because it did not support government told lies about this very benign drug.

    Google marijuana studies for more. Much, much more, including research done in other countries.

    I've been doing my own "study"...... (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdog on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 01:56:10 PM EST
    for the past 12 years....so far the findings are it feels good, helps you relax and unwind, with little to no negative side effects.

    I'll keep you posted on any new developments.


    Your own version of cramming (none / 0) (#18)
    by kindness on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 02:14:15 PM EST
    for your drug test, eh?

    I look at it as preventative meds for potential glaucoma.


    The Fact IS (none / 0) (#13)
    by peacrevol on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 11:59:54 AM EST
    That no matter what the truth is about pot, the government has invested so much money and ruined so many lives in the name of a war on drugs that includes pot, that there is no turning back. Lawsuits like this have to be won so that maybe they can take it to the law making stages to allow it to be available to those who need it at least for legitimate medicinal purposes. The govt has a long history of not giving a damn about somebody who's truly suffering, ie HIV patients or cancer patients, if it means they have to say they were wrong. Just look at the Iraq war today...bullheadedness anyone?

    Cannabis law in IL (none / 0) (#16)
    by windy city atty on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 01:53:43 PM EST
    In Illinois, the legislature at first copied the federal controlled substances act, lumping marijuana in with heroine and the rest. Then, when some poor chap was given 10 yrs for a first offense sale of an oz. of pot, the IL Sup Ct reversed the conviction, stating that marijuana was improperly classified as a narcotic -(i think the court found an equal protection violation somehow) so the IL legislature made up an entire new act called the Cannabis Control Act that deals only and specifically with pot and which drastically reduced the penalties for first time offenses.    

    I believe the case name was People v. McCabe, i read it in law school and it is a very interesting opinion - considering it was like 1972 or something.

    As far as the racial undertones of the war on pot - they are quite real (see Jack Herer, the Emporer Wears No Clothes, online, for complete history).  The racism motivation led to the passing of the Stamp tax,(had to have a tax stamp to posseess pot, but the stamps were not actually available to the general public, and even if they were you had to have the pot in  hand to get the stamp) which the great Dr. Timothy Leary got thrown out on unconstitutional grounds because it required a person to break the law to comply with it. (self-incrimination). If you want a more modern reason why pot remains illegal for a purely social or political reason not having anything to do with the drug's actual potential to cause harm - i think you need only one word: Hippies.


    Legalie it all (none / 0) (#21)
    by plumberboy on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 03:54:29 AM EST
    Drugs are no worse than booze in fact my personal opinion is drugs especially pot is way better than booze.I mean mentally and the side affects.I want the nazi machine  shut down I say they let every state decide let the voters of that state decide.