By WCL New Service for The Leaf Online
Fake news has not only severely damaged the outcome and public
confidence in the nation’s 2016 elections, deceit has been a foundation of Drug War politics for over 100 years. When President Obama signed an executive order in 209 requiring that his policies be based on science instead of politics, it sounded promising but has done very little to end the flow of official DDEA-adminstrator-fighting-back-against-marijuana-policy-The-Leaf-Onlinerug War disinformation.
Now a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research, Americans for Safe Access, has filed a petition with the Department of Justice (DOJ) demanding that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) immediately update its misinformation about cannabis.
Patients’ patience with government lies comes to an end
The petition is being filed under the rules of the Information Quality Act (IQA, aka Data Quality Act), which requires administrative agencies to devise guidelines that ensure the “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information” they distribute and to “[e]stablish administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency that does not comply with the guidelines.”
Americans for Safe Access’ complaint cites 25 violations under the IQA, alleging that the DEA website currently contains inaccurate statements that do not meet informational standards required by the law. Making matters worse, the DEA continues to distribute statements about the efficacy of medical cannabis and its risks, which have been refuted by the DEA itself in the recent “Denial of Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana,” issued August 12, 2016.
“We have taken this action to stop the DEA’s relentless campaign of misinformation about the health risks of medical cannabis in its tracks,” said Vickie Feeman, an attorney with the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. View the petition here.
“We are proud to represent Americans for Safe Access pro bono in this matter to protect the rights of patients throughout the country who could be harmed — and have already been harmed — by the DEA’s refusal to not only acknowledge the scientifically proven benefits of medical cannabis, but also its deliberate attempt to inflate and publicly misrepresent the facts about the potential harms of cannabis use.”
Inaccurate information used to sway national policies
“For years, the DEA has published scientifically inaccurate information about the health effects of medical cannabis, directly influencing the action — and inaction — of Congress” said Steph Sherer, executive director for Americans for Safe Access.
“We are simply taking the DEA’s own statements, which confirm scientific facts about medical cannabis, and analysis that has long been accepted by a majority of the scientific community.
“Our request is simple: the DEA must change its public information to better comport with its own expressed views, so that Congress has access to the appropriate tools to make informed decisions about public health. Alternatively, ASA requests that the DEA simply remove the inaccurate statements or the documents in their entirety.
Contradictions in DEA statements at core of issue
The overwhelming majority of the objective scientific studies — including studies cited by the DEA in its Denial of Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana (DPR) — disprove the DEA’s statements. Because the DEA itself made statements in the DPR that directly contradict information in The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse and Drugs of Abuse, it is undeniable that this information lacks utility and objectivity.
“The presentation of scientifically unfounded information alongside scientifically accurate information obscures and diminishes the utility of the accurate information and can jeopardize public health,” added Sherer. “Moreover, the disingenuous presentation of inaccurate information makes it difficult for public officials and medical providers to make informed decisions regarding the viability of medical cannabis treatment options.
“This is something President Obama can correct before he leaves office. We cannot have this misinformation continue to inaccurately influence the minds of Congressional representatives and government agencies.”