Obama Administration says No to pot
By Clarence V. McKee
In a not-so-subtle slap in the face to proponents of so-called “medical” marijuana in Florida and other states, a key agency of the Obama Administration has “just said No” to marijuana — for medical or recreational purposes.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced that marijuana will remain a Schedule 1 drug and continue to be illegal “for any purpose” under the Controlled Substances Act, as is the case with heroin and cocaine. Such drugs have been determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to have no medical use.
The announcement further states marijuana meets the three requirements for placing a substance on the Schedule 1 list: 1) it has a high potential for abuse; 2) there is no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; 3) there is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
Further undercutting medical and recreational marijuana proponents, the DEA cited a Health and Human Services (HHS) evaluation that shows marijuana has no “currently accepted medical use” because “the drug’s chemistry is not known and reproducible; there are no adequate safety studies; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts; and the scientific evidence is not widely available.”
Stating that “there is no evidence that there is a consensus among qualified experts that marijuana is safe and effective for use in treating a specific, recognized disorder”, the DEA concluded, “the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.”
The DEA announcement is especially timely for Floridians who will have an opportunity to reject a ballot initiative in November, Amendment 2, which would legalize “medical” marijuana in the state.
If that is not enough to convince them, and people in other states who support pot legalization, the official White House position on the matter should.
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) website outlines the many dangers of legalization of marijuana including that its use poses significant risks to public health; increased availability leads to increased health and safety costs; and, legalization will not solve public health or safety challenges.
Taking direct issue with proponents of Florida’s Amendment 2 and other efforts around the country to legalize marijuana, the White House statement is clear: “Confusing messages being presented by popular culture media, proponents of “medical” marijuana…perpetuate the false notion that marijuana is harmless. This significantly diminishes efforts to keep our young people drug free and hampers the struggle of those recovering from addiction.”
If supporters of medical and recreational marijuana still wonder what the White House meaning of “No is,” the following summary of its position should: “The Administration steadfastly opposes legalization of marijuana . . . because legalization would increase the availability and use of illicit drugs, and pose significant health and safety risks to all Americans, particularly young people.”
Another dirty little secret that proponents of medical marijuana legalization in Florida and elsewhere don’t want the public to know about is the fact that food products containing marijuana, like cookies and candy, are sending children to emergency rooms throughout the country.
According to an NBC “Today Show” report in May, marijuana is now legal for either recreational or medical use in 24 states and the District of Columbia and “edibles” containing marijuana are hurting children from California to New York.
Last year alone, poison control facilities across the country reported 4,000 kids and teens exposed to marijuana.
As Sgt. Jim Gerhardt of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association said: “You have little kids that accidentally get into this stuff; or a baby sitter might give a child something out of the pantry, not realizing what it is. Those accidental issues are on the rise, and it’s a big problem.”
Because of such concerns, a bill signed into law in Colorado, effective July 1, made it a crime to sell pot-infused candies, such as gummy bears, or marijuana products in the shape of any other animal, fruits — or people. And, according to an August report by the University of Washington School of Law, in 2014, the state of Washington introduced rules “prohibiting recreational marijuana cannabis stores from selling gummy bears, lollipops and cotton candy infused with cannabis . . . ”
Sadly, the Florida proposal has no such protections for children.
The Obama administration is right on this issue. Hopefully Florida voters reject Amendment 2 in November and states that have legalized so-called medical and recreational pot will follow the lead of Colorado and Washington and at least protect their children.
In the name of disclosure, readers should know that the writer’s company has been a consultant to Florida’s “Vote No On 2 Campaign” and should take that into consideration— as they digest these comments. That said, the facts are clear: legalization of marijuana — for medical or recreational use — is harmful to the public and is dangerous for children.
Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political, and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as in the Reagan presidential campaigns. He is a former co-owner of WTVT-TV in Tampa and former president of the Florida Association of Broadcasters.