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DEA Basically Admits It Knows Nothing About Marijuana and Opioids

While the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) may continue its anti-marijuana policies, you'd still think the agency would have valuable knowledge and insight into cannabis. But recent congressional testimony proves otherwise.

DEA acting administrator Robert Patterson appeared in front of Congress last week to discuss how the issue of using marijuana as an alternative to opioids. Patterson basically spent his entire testimony talking about anti-drug platitudes without any evidence to back it up.

For instance, Patterson was asked whether he believes medical marijuana is helping or hurting the nation's opioid crisis. He said he believed medicinal cannabis was helping to fuel the crisis, but said he could not provide any evidence to backup his position. Of course, we know that's because there's actually substantive evidence showing that states with medical marijuana have lower rates of opioid abuse and that addicts with access to cannabis use harder drugs less.

Throughout his testimony Patterson showed his lack of knowledge on the issue. He admitted he was not aware of studies showing how states with medical marijuana have lower opioid abuse rates, another showing how opioid deaths decreased in states with medical marijuana and even wasn't aware of a study that said cannabis can be used to treat chronic pain.

Patterson not only admitted that the DEA has no evidence about marijuana's effect on the opioid crisis, but that the agency has never even reviewed the issue. When asked fro what he believes would be a suitable alternative to opioids, Patterson responded, "Tylenol."

Florida congressman Matt Gaetz perhaps had the harshest takedown of Patterson. Gaetz said, “You’re the acting administrator of the DEA. 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?”

Patterson responded, "Yes."

So the agency in charge of enforcing our drug laws has no idea about studies revolving around the drugs they're supposed to regulate. 

(h/t The Hill)


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