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July 11, 1995

Marijuana Prohibition Subject To New Legal And Scientific Challenge:
Petition Demands U. S. Government Provide Finding On Marijuana's Abuse Potential As Required By Federal Law

Calling marijuana prohibition a "fraud and a failure," longtime activist and former NORML National Director Jon Gettman filed a rule making petition with the Drug Enforcement Administration on July 10, 1995 demanding that the agency immediately initiate proceedings to re-evaluate marijuana's Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act.

By law, the DEA is required to forward such petitions to the Department of Health and Human Services for a binding medical and scientific evaluation. The petition is based on a comprehensive review of recent scientific evidence demonstrating that marijuana does not have "sufficient abuse potential to warrant Schedule I or II status under the Controlled Substances Act." The CSA mandates that a scientific finding affirming that a drug has a high potential for abuse is required to maintain the complete prohibition of any drug or substance under Schedule I. (21 USC x812 (b) (1))

No such finding has ever existed for marijuana.

DEA Administrator Constantine has claimed in an exchange of letters that abuse potential is irrelevant to the scheduling of drugs with no accepted medical use. When Gettman reminded Constantine that this position was explicitly rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1977 (NORML v. DEA, 559 F.2d 736), Constantine boldly challenged him to pursue action in an April 21, 1995 letter to United States Senator John Warner (R-VA). In this letter, Constantine stated that: "[The DEA is] unaware of any new scientific studies of marijuana that would lead us to re-evaluate its classification at this time; therefore no such evaluation is now in process nor do we feel [that one is] necessary based on the information available to us. [However,] if Mr. Gettman has scientific data concerning marijuana which he wishes to bring to our attention, we will be pleased to consider it, should he care to share the documentation with us."

In response to Constantine's statements, Gettman has produced a 279 page petition referencing nearly 170 scientific journals and government reports. Of prime importance to Gettman's arguments is the recent discovery of a cannabinoid receptor system in the human body. This discovery has radically altered contemporary knowledge about marijuana's effects on the body and the brain. According to Gettman, "These new findings directly contradict many of the DEA's on-record findings of 'fact' which have been used to block prior reconsideration of marijuana's scheduling status."

"Until 1990, no one knew how marijuana affected the brain. Marijuana prohibition has assumed that science would eventually prove marijuana had a high potential for abuse. Science has demolished that assumption, and established marijuana prohibition as a cruel fraud upon the American public.

No scientist has ever established that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, and now we know that no science can."

"Simply put, drugs with a high potential for abuse induce self-administration in animals, and affect the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Marijuana does neither. To retain marijuana in Schedule I creates a double standard forbidden by the 14th Amendment - one set of rules for all other drugs, and a different set of rules for marijuana."

A 78 page booklet titled "The Scientific and Legal Basis for the End of Marijuana Prohibition" reviewing some of the research cited in Gettman's petition will be forthcoming from NORML at a cost of $10 plus $2.50 shipping and handling. Summaries of the scientific and medical evidence supporting the petition are available from NORML and will soon be available on the Internet. Jon Gettman has also described this new research in articles in the March and July 1995 issues of High Times.

[Jon Gettman can be contacted for further information about this rule-making petition c/o NORML. Other activists who wish to file their own similar rule making petitions with the DEA should refer to sections 21 CFR Ch. II x1308.44 of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Justice manual.]



Back to Portland NORML's introduction to "Marijuana and the Human Brain."

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