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The D.E.A Are The Flat-Earthers Of The Cannabis Revolution


By Roger Malespin  (photo/istock.com/krisanapong detraphiphat )

One of the more frustrating parts about the opposition to legalization is the poor science - and in many cases, no science - that continues to be put into the public sphere regarding cannabis. Much of this is decades-old, archaic ideas that have long been outside of mainstream knowledge. Regular folks holding onto such beliefs are more or less harmless, but it is problematic when state agencies, particularly those whose job it is to understand the issues, perpetuate them. While testifying before congress last week, D.E.A acting administrator Robert Patterson displayed both a scientifically ignorant and alarmingly out of touch stance on legal cannabis by suggesting that it will fuel, not help America’s opioid crisis.
Last year, a comprehensive report by The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that that “conclusive or substantial evidence” exists for the efficacy of whole-plant cannabis and its derivatives in patients suffering from chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and other disorders. When asked by Florida Republican Matt Gaetz if he is aware of it, and other state studies on pain relief, Patterson said he was not. Additionally, he acknowledged that the D.E.A has, to date, never even so much as reviewed the issue and said patients seeking alternatives to opioids should try Tylenol. 
Just to be clear, this is the acting administrator of the federal government’s agency responsible for coordinating and pursuing U.S drug investigations dismissing science and patients suffering from a number of painful ailments and diseases, and telling them to take aspirin if they don’t like opioid addiction. It would be difficult to come up with a more insulting or galling response to the question of legalization. It is a move indicative of the D.E.A and the federal government’s desperation to fall back on deliberate misinformation and outright lies in the face of overwhelming evidence if it doesn’t suit their position. And make no mistake, their position is not moral - it is bought and paid for by drug companies and the for-profit prison industry that continue to be the biggest challengers to legalization at the federal level. 

However, is has become clear to the majority of the American people and an increasing number of powerful lawmakers that Patterson’s position is ridiculous. Those who refuse to hold onto what is essentially outdated propaganda are listening to the social, political, and cultural shift of cannabis the U.S is in the midst of. Congress does, but doesn’t have to defer to the D.E.A when legislating drug laws, and Patterson’s answers in this hearing did not sit well with Rep. Gaetz. The conclusion of the hearing was as follows:
Rep. Gaetz: “You’re the acting administrator of the D.E.A. You cannot cite a single study that indicates that medical marijuana creates a greater challenge with opioids, and you’re unaware of the studies, including studies from the National Academies of Sciences, that demonstrate that medical marijuana can be an acceptable alternative to opioids. Is that what I’m understanding?”
Robert Patterson: “Yes.”

Patterson’s poor performance in front of the whole country will not be forgotten, and his comments likely have damaged the credibility of the D.E.A on the issue of cannabis beyond repair. So don’t be angry at his words, be glad that most of our lawmakers now recognize it for the nonsense that is it.