Medical marijuana patients across the nation have cause for celebration this week as Drug Enforcement Administration Chief Chuck Rosenberg announced he will be stepping down from his position, which he's held since May of 2015. Shortly afterward, he mired the DEA in controversy by suggesting that medical marijuana is basically a hoax.
"What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal -- because it's not," Rosenberg told reporters in November of 2015 during an unprovoked attack on the medical cannabis industry. "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," he added.
Advocates weren't laughing. A petition calling for Rosenberg's dismissal from the Obama administration quickly garnered thousands of signatures. And Rosenberg was publicly lambasted by pretty much everyone involved in the industry, including teenaged patient Coltyn Turner, who slammed Rosenberg in a viral video that fall.
#imnotajoke. 20 months in remission from Crohns, RA and Lupus because of MARIJUANA!! Hey Chuck! Coltyn Turner is NOT a joke!! Cannabis is medicine! #resignchuck #coltynscruePosted by Wendy Turner on Thursday, November 19, 2015
But Rosenberg didn't budge on his stance. In fact, he doubled-down on his opposition to medical marijuana the following summer when he had a chance to leave a lasting legacy on American drug policy. Right now, marijuana is classified along with heroin as one of the most dangerous drugs in the country. And even Rosenberg admits that's ridiculous. In August of 2015, he said, "Heroin is clearly more dangerous than marijuana."
But when he had a chance to fix America's absurd drug laws by bumping cannabis down to a lower schedule in the Controlled Substances Act, he chose to stick with the status quo instead.
"The HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] concluded that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use in the United States, and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision," Rosenberg wrote while denying a petition to reschedule marijuana.
It was a mind-boggling statement considering that 25 states had recognized the medicinal value of cannabis by legalizing medical use at that point. Another 5 have gotten onboard with legalization since Rosenberg made those remarks. And over a dozen other states have legalized the cannabis extract CBD. That means marijuana is legal in some form for medical use in over 40 states despite the federal government's backward stance on the issue. So Rosenberg has basically turned the DEA into the Denial Enforcement Administration.
Right now, there's no word yet on whom President Trump plans to pick as Rosenberg's replacement. But it's hard to imagine that he'll pick a worse candidate to take over the job unless he hires of the ghost of Nancy "Just Say No" Reagan.
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