DEA Attempts to Change Marijuana Classification without Congress
In another convoluted strategy which characterizes virtually all of the DEA's relationship with marijuana, the agency is doing another Chicago tap dance, and has applied to change the rules around cannabis extract (and by the way, without any congressional input).
They say they are doing this to bring US policy in line with the UN Single Convention on Drugs. This is a lie. In the UN Convention (not to be confused the US Controlled Substances Act (CSA), cannabis extract is considered to have redeeming medical use, as it is not listed in Schedule IV.
Single Convention Scheduling:
• Schedule I – The substance is liable to similar abuse and productive of similar ill effects as the drugs already in Schedule I or Schedule II, or is convertible into a drug.
• Schedule II – The substance is liable to similar abuse and productive of similar ill effects as the drugs already in Schedule I or Schedule II, or is convertible into a drug.
• Schedule III – The preparation, because of the substances which it contains, is not liable to abuse and cannot produce ill effects; and the drug therein is not readily recoverable.
• Schedule IV – The drug, which is already in Schedule I, is particularly liable to abuse and to produce ill effects, and such liability is not offset by substantial therapeutic advantages.
As you see, the UN Single Convention on Drugs, which drug warriors always bring up as "tying their hands" when it comes to marijuana reclassification, has its own categorization scheme. The DEA wants to anchor cannabis extract right into the most restrictive US category (Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act), and effectively block its transition to US Schedule III, where, for example, Marinol (synthetic THC) currently resides.
They are doing this as a fait accompli, as a rule change, completely without congressional oversight (something they suggest they cannot do, when it comes to making rules less restrictive – also a lie).
Here are the pertinent sections of the notice of the proposed rulemaking.
The United Nations Conventions on international drug control treat extracts from the cannabis plant differently than marihuana or tetrahydrocannabinols. The creation of a new drug code in DEA regulations for marihuana extracts will allow for more appropriate accounting of such materials consistent with treaty provisions.
That last sentence is a prime example of DEA obfuscation. The DEA goes on to say:
With respect to those drugs that are subject to control under the Single Convention, the CSA mandates that DEA control such drugs at least as strictly as required by the Single Convention. 21 U.S.C. 811(d).
Somewhat similar to the CSA, the Single Convention controls substances through four schedules. However, under the Single Convention, the drugs that are subject to the most stringent controls are in schedule IV. Another difference between the CSA and the Single Convention is that, under the latter, a drug can be listed in more than one schedule. Cannabis and cannabis resin are listed in both schedule IV and schedule I of the Single Convention. Schedule I controls under the Single Convention include requirements for import and export authorization, licensing of manufacturers/distributors, recordkeeping requirements, requirement for prescriptions for medical use, annual estimate of needs, quotas, annual statistical reporting, and a requirement that use be limited to medical and scientific purposes. Schedule II of the Single Convention is similar in controls to schedule I with a few exceptions, and schedule III is less restrictive. All substances listed in schedule IV are also listed in schedule I. The placing of a drug into both schedule I and schedule IV therefore imposes the most stringent controls under the Single Convention. Although cannabis and cannabis resin are listed in Schedules I and IV of the Single Convention, cannabis extracts are listed only in Schedule I.
Meaning that (according to the UN Convention, cannabis extracts have medical properties which outweigh any problems brought about by abuse, a position the DEA catagorically denies.
But this is how the DEA frames it:
The creation of a new drug code in DEA regulations for marihuana extracts would allow for more appropriate accounting of such materials consistent with treaty provisions.
Translation: we want to get our hands all over this product and regulate it to death.
This is particularly pressing (in the DEA mindset) since some pharmaceutical companies (think GW and Sativex) are applying for permission to sell their natural cannabis extractions in the US (They are already available under prescription in Spain, the U.K, Canada and New Zealand, with the addition of Germany, Denmark and Sweden at the end of 2011, and with Italy, Austria and the Czech Repubic expected in 2012.
Note: the US is not on this list, and may never be if the DEA gets it way.
However, clearly, this is all about pharmaceutical companies (think GW and Sativex) being strictly under DEA distribution restrictions and quotas), and the radioactive fall-out is that it puts mom and pop medical marijuana purveyors of edible medicine squarely in the DEA cross hairs. Yes, canna-butter and marijuana, infused olive or coconut oil (crucial ingredient of edibles) are considered extracts, and these would fall under this new classification.
So, if cannabinoids in general were re or declassified, the extract of cannabis would, under the new system, be in a category of its own, lodged deep within the twisted brain of the DEA. Remember, getting a substance into Schedule I is easy. Getting it out is akin to a lobotomy.
The DEA continues:
Such marihuana extracts remain in schedule I*. Firms registered to handle marihuana (under drug code 7360) that also handle marihuana extracts, will need to apply to add the new drug code 7350 to their existing DEA registrations and procure quotas specifically for drug code 7350 each year.
* But only in their essential nature as a component of the plant. Putting cannabis extracts in their own category puts yet another weapon in the arsenal of the DEA in its absurd war on one of the most therapeutically potent plants on the planet.
Cannabis lovers, medical marijuana activists and those who are simply trying to protect our basic human rights are encouraged to weigh-in on this this proposed change to greater restrictiveness on the safer, non-smoked usage of cannabis.
This is how to make your voice heard, per the DEA. Let us roar.
DATES: Electronic comments must be submitted and written comments must be postmarked on or before September 6, 2011. Commenters should be aware that the electronic Federal Docket Management System will not accept comments after midnight Eastern Time on the last day of the comment period. ADDRESSES: To ensure proper handling of comments, please reference “Docket No. DEA-342” on all electronic and written correspondence. DEA encourages all comments be submitted electronically throughhttp://www.regulations.govusing the electronic comment form provided on that site. An electronic copy of this document and supplemental information to this proposed rule are also available at thehttp://www.regulations.govWeb site for easy reference. Paper comments that duplicate the electronic submission are not necessary as all comments submitted tohttp://www.regulations.govwill be posted for public review and are part of the official docket record. Should you, however, wish to submit written comments via regular or express mail, they should be sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Attention: DEA Federal Register Representative/ODL, 8701 Morrissette Drive, Springfield, VA 22152. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Imelda L. Paredes, Office of Diversion Control, Drug Enforcement Administration, 8701 Morrissette Drive, Springfield, Virginia 22152; Telephone (202) 307-7165.
See the Federal Register for full details: