White House Responds to Petitions About Legalizing Marijuana

The White House has responded to several of the petitions to end federal prohibition of marijuana. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/response/what-we-have-say-about-marijuana-and-hemp-production The response cites sources on their concerns about marijuana use. From the health aspect the White House cites The National Institute of Drug Abuse  http://www.drugabuse.gov/ where the health problems associated with marijuana smoking are discussed such as memory loss, bronchitis, psychosis and the risk of cancer. Also cited are the instance of emergency room treatment in association with drug abuse at.  http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/DAWN034/EDHighlights.htm  And voluntary substance abuse treatment at. http://oas.samhsa.gov/TEDS2k7highlights/TEDSHighl2k7Tbl3.htm

The White House also denies that marijuana has any medical use, citing that no sound scientific studies support medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States. It also states that marijuana is a dangerous drug that belongs in the schedule 1 of the Controlled Substance Act . Reality paints a much different picture where 18 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana programs, 2 states have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes and mountains of evidence now support marijuana as a treatment for a myriad of different ailments.

“Marijuana is listed in schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the most restrictive schedule. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which administers the CSA, continues to support that placement and FDA concurred because marijuana met the three criteria for placement in Schedule I under 21 U.S.C. 812(b)(1) (e.g., marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision). Furthermore, there is currently sound evidence that smoked marijuana is harmful. A past evaluation by several Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), concluded that no sound scientific studies supported medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States, and no animal or human data supported the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general medical use. There are alternative FDA-approved medications in existence for treatment of many of the proposed uses of smoked marijuana.” http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2006/ucm108643.htm

The response also claims that marijuana potency has tripled over the last 20 years raising serious concerns about the safety of marijuana use. This argument has little meaning when we consider that most people smoke only to the point where they reach a comfortable high. It is like comparing beer to hard liquor. Would it be reasonable to assume people would drink the same amount of alcohol by volume if they were drinking 3.2% beer or 151 proof rum?                            http://home.olemiss.edu/~suman/potancy%20paper%202010.pdf

The White House also has specific claims to the efficiency of substance abuse treatments.  http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment/frequently-asked-questions

And the use of drug courts which require the defendant to plead guilty and pay for substance abuse treatment or counseling and submit to periodic and random drug testing also at their own expense for at least 1 year, where any failure will result in the original sentence being administered resulting in incarceration. This also drives up the number of people involved in voluntary substance abuse treatment even if they volunteered to avoid incarceration or just to save their job. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment/frequently-asked-questions

It is worth noting that the only sources listed are government-funded and controlled. In the SAMSHA.gov reports about emergency room treatments it is also worth noting that the results are skewed because adult use of alcohol (age 21 and up) is deliberately left out of the results, leaving the impression that emergency room treatment associated with marijuana use is almost as prevalent as that of alcohol. It is also interesting that marijuana is listed alone but alcohol is listed alone and as used with other drugs. It would be a better comparison if all parameters were equal. It is also worth noting that just because the drug was listed as associated with an emergency room visit, it may not be the cause or the reason for the emergency room visit, just that it was noted that the patient was under the influence.

Table 1. Drug-Related Emergency Department (ED) Visits, by Type of Visit: 2009
Type of Drug-Related ED Visit Number of ED Visits* Percent*
Total Drug-Related ED Visits 4,595,263 100.0%
Drug Misuse or Abuse 2,070,439   45.1%
Misuse or Abuse of Pharmaceuticals 1,244,679   27.1%
Illicit Drug Use    973,591   21.2%
Alcohol Involvement**    658,263   14.3%
Alcohol Involvement with Drug Use    519,650   11.3%
Underage Drinking    199,429     4.3%
Adverse Reactions 2,287,273   49.8%
* Because each visit may represent multiple types of visits and multiple types of drugs, the estimates add to more than the total number of visits and the percentages add to more than 100. ** Alcohol involvement includes use of alcohol in combination with other drugs for patients of all ages and use of alcohol only for persons aged 20 or younger. Underage drinking includes both use of alcohol in combination with other drugs and use of alcohol only for persons aged 20 or younger. Source: 2009 SAMHSA Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN).


Table 2. Misused or Abused Drugs Most Commonly Involved in Emergency Department (ED) Visits: 2009
Drugs Number of ED Visits Number of ED Visits per 100,000 Population
Alcohol in Combination with Other Drugs*    519,650 169.3
Underage Drinking**    199,429 227.2
Illicit Drugs    973,591 317.1
Cocaine    422,896 137.7
Marijuana    376,467 122.6
Heroin    213,118   69.4
Pharmaceuticals 1,244,679 405.4
Pain Relievers    595,551 194.0
Narcotic Pain Relievers    397,160 129.4
Oxycodone Products    175,949   57.3
Hydrocodone Products    104,490   34.0
Drugs to Treat Insomnia and Anxiety    433,600 141.2
Benzodiazepines    373,328 121.6
Antidepressants    104,940   34.2
* Use of alcohol in combination with other drugs is recorded by DAWN for patients of all ages. ** Underage drinking includes both use of alcohol in combination with other drugs and use of alcohol only for persons aged 20 or younger. Source: 2009 SAMHSA Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN).

The White house also reported that they have increased the funding for the Drug Free Communities Support Program where 7.9 million dollars was added to the already 76.7 million dollar annual funding for organizations such as http://www.drugfree.org/. That is a lot of money that these organizations have available for advertising to keep public opinion against marijuana. If you are tired of the prohibition of marijuana and want change, then we must act. Inaction will always produce zero results. If we do nothing, nothing will change. We must tell our elected officials that we want change and describe what kind of change. We must also raise public awareness of our desires and encourage public debate. The best way to accomplish that is through advertising. Please donate generously so that I can resume advertising. The opposition already has 84.6 million dollars to use for advertising given to them out of your taxes. Also please call or write to your elected representatives and let them know how you feel.




Randy Johnson