nixon drug policy

A Tragedy Felt Around the World

by Jonny Appleweed

On Oct. 27, 1970, President Richard M. Nixon signed into law the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, Pub. L. No. 91-513, 84 Stat. 1236.

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, is the legal foundation of the government’s fight against the abuse of drugs and other substances.

This law is a consolidation of numerous laws regulating the manufacture and distribution of narcotics, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, anabolic steroids, and chemicals used in the illicit production of controlled substances.

The act also provides a mechanism for substances to be controlled, added to a schedule, decontrolled, and removed from control, rescheduled, or transferred from one schedule to another.

Proceedings to add, delete, or change the schedule of a drug or other substance may be initiated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), or by petition from any interested party, including the manufacturer of a drug, medical society, or association, a pharmacy associ-ation, a public interest group concerned with drug abuse, a state or local government agency, or an individual citi-zen. When a petition is received by the DEA, the agency begins its own investigation of the drug.

The DEA also may begin an investigation of a drug at any time based upon information received from law enforcement laboratories, state and local law enforce-ment and regulatory agencies, or other sources of infor-mation.

Once the DEA has collected the necessary data, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, by authority of the Attorney General, requests from the HHS a scientific and medical evaluation and recommendation as to whether the drug or other substance should be controlled or removed from control. This request is sent to the Assistant Secretary of Health of the HHS. Then the HHS solicits information from the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and evaluations and recommendations from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and on occasion, from the scientific and medical community. The Assistant Secretary, by authority of the Secretary, compiles the information and transmits back to the DEA a medical and scientific evaluation regarding the drug or other substance, a recommendation as to whether the drug should be con-trolled, and in what schedule it should be placed.

The medical and scientific evaluations are binding on the DEA with respect to scientific and medical matters. The recommendation on scheduling is binding only to the extent that if HHS recommends that the substance not be controlled, the DEA may not control the substance. Once the DEA has received the scientific and medical evalua-tion from HHS, the Administrator will evaluate all avail-able data and make a final decision whether to propose that a drug or other substance be controlled and into which schedule it should be placed.

By placing marijuana as a Schedule I drug, our govern-ment may have left itself open to challenges from recent discoveries in THC research.

In a bizarre course of events, the HHS has received a patent on cannabinoids (an inert ingredient of THC), Patent # 6630507; the patent was applied for on Feb. 2, 2001, and issued on Oct. 7, 2003.

By the application for and receipt of this patent, the HHS has failed in its mission to protect the public health; on the other hand, by this same act, it has acknowledged and proven the medical benefits of marijuana and its compounds required by the CSA. Now, why from 2003 till now haven’t we seen medical marijuana legalized on the federal level, or at least rescheduled?

I am proposing a campaign to write the very people involved in these decisions and ask them this same ques-tion. With the actions of the HHS, patients should not be denied medical marijuana any longer, and patients may have the right to sue on these very grounds.

Peace and God’s Speed

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