On Legalizing Medical Cannabis: The DEA Responds [EXCLUSIVE]

dea rescheduling medical cannabis legalizing medical cannabis anewdomain

The DEA wants to remove the barriers to cannabis research, a spokesman told aNewDomain in a lengthy interview today. But how and when will it reschedule cannabis as a Schedule II drug? [Exclusive]

aNewDomainGina-Smith-anewdomain — A DEA official responded at length today to a widely-circulated report that the DEA plans to effectively legalize medical cannabis this August.

In an interview with aNewDomain today, DEA staff coordinator Russ Baer wouldn’t confirm the Santa Monica Observer report that the DEA will reschedule cannabis as a prescription-only Schedule II drug on Aug. 1, 2016. But he did comment at length about the agency’s thoughts around legalizing medical cannabis and how rescheduling cannabis from its current Schedule I status would have to work.

Baer, in his comments, went well beyond the prepared statement the agency gave to The Houston Chronicle and other media covering the story earlier today. Check out his comments and our takeaway below.

“This is a complicated plant.” 

First off, the decision to reschedule cannabis isn’t a simple one because cannabis biochemistry is so complex, Baer said, and the variety of forms medical cannabis now takes are many.

“What is under-reported right now is how complex the marijuana plant is,” he added, pointing out that “it has hundreds of chemical actors, or cannabinoids.”

THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and Cannabidiol

About the author

Gina Smith

Gina Smith is a New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning journalist. A former correspondent for ABC News, Gina is the co-founder and editorial director of aNewDomain Media. Email Gina at gina@anewdomain.net and find her on Twitter @ginasmith888

12 Comments

    • Thanks for the catch. I should watch the autocorrect on my iPad much more closely — especially when I am posting stories in the middle of the night! Thanks, Peter. gs

  • This is horrifying. Reading between the lines it says that the DEA wants to stall and maintain the status quo with respect to keeping Marijuana on Schedule 1 and delay, delay, delay, and “pass the buck” to congress, knowing that any attempt to re-schedule it there would probably die because of all the special interests that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

    My major interest is in the rights of Cancer Patients, Kids with Seizures, Vets with PTSD, and people in Chronic Pain to have safe, legal, access to a life-saving medication with an unmatched safety profile.

    There are some strong analogies to what’s happened with the efforts to get even the smallest improvements with respect to getting laws passed to prevent terrorists and nut-job from buying assault rifles because of the power of the NRA, which is owned by gun manufacturers, not gun owners, who, buy in large, are far less extreme in their views than the gun manufacturers are.

    The DEA has a MASSIVE conflict of interest.

    They need to move Marijuana to Schedule 3 or de-schedule it IMMEDIATELY.

    De-Scheduling is the only truly honest, ethical and moral decision.

    They need to be honest about their conflict of interest, the fact that it is hurting countless Americans, and that it is morally wrong to maintain the status quo.

  • “Schedule II drug means state-legislated cannabis laws are dead.” -What is the basis for this assertion? It is schedule 1 now! How does the federal government relaxing its position on cannabis a little- make it more difficult for states to continue to be crucibles of democracy and try new policies on the issue? It sounds more like setting the stage for states rights law suits and advocates to go nuts- more than actually solving a supposed problem.

  • The decision has to be to de-schedule and put the burden of proof on those who would want to restrict the rights of Americans to have safe, legal, access to Marijuana, both for legitimate medical use,and, for adults over 21, as a better, safer, alternative to alcohol.

    The situation with respect to Medical Use is clear,. Marijuana is a “Wonder Drug” and a “Gift from God” for America’s Cancer Patients, Kids with Seizures, Vets (and others) with PTSD, and Americans in Chronic Pain.

    It truly is “Settled Science” in the same way as the issue of Man Made Climate Change Is.

    With respect to “Adult Use” the situation is equally clear to any honest person.

    Prohibition 2.0 has been a dangerous and deadly failure. The people who explain the situation the best, based on their own experience and their insights that came from it, are the brave and honest officers of LEAP — “Law Enforcement Against Prohibition”

  • Excellent article! Congrats on the scoop. too. Mixed feelings about Baer’s comments, but at least it would seem to undermine Chuck Rosenburg’s assertion that “Medical marijuana is a joke.” Hope it moves to Schedule 3, but 2 sounds much more likely. Crossing my fingers on the Compassionate access bill, too. Thanks Gina. Nice work!

  • There is no possible way the DEA is going to re-schedule marijuana this year, or next year. Sorry, but look at the history here. The DEA has been the supreme master of stalling, and blocking all progress for research, and have been intractable in their schedule one position.
    Why is a plant, that does not have one overdose death in a thousand years, is right next to heroin, PCP, and LSD on the CSA list? That is a very easy question to answer: Follow the money. For starters, the US has the most massive prison industry in the world. Keeping marijuana schedule one creates jobs, and keeps jobs- for the DEA, and the prison industrial complex.
    So, maybe, to make it appear the DEA is doing something, they might talk about CBD, but whole cannabis, hemp, marijuana will NOT be re-scheduled. Now, I am a betting man, and I’ll bet the farm, that once again, like all the previous petitions submitted to have marijuana re-scheduled, this too will be just another stall tactic to keep the corrupt system as it is, and as it shall be. Mark my words, as I have never been wrong in 40 years on this subject.

  • If this is true, as most journalist who conduct an interview they record it. Did you do this? If so, please post the audio of at least one question being asked by you and being answered by Baer. So far, there is no collaborating facts that this interview happened other than your post here.