|Ever wonder why, despite millions of personal anecdotes about pot's healing effects, there is a stark lack of government-approved, clinical studies to back up that human experience? The research gap is no accident. Cannabis is the only illicit substance with an extra set of governmental requirements specifically intended to prevent independent study.
While medical marijuana patients in nearly half of the states swear by the herb’s medicinal properties, prohibitionists can conveniently point their fingers at that lack of scientific evidence whenever cornered by a pro-legalization argument. Stacks of research have affirmed the extraordinary potentials of the cannabis plant, but none received the official approval of the U.S. government.
Hiding behind these outdated prerequisites, the US Drug Enforcement Administration has effectively blocked government approval of all independent scientific studies on pot for four decades. Created in the '70s as part of Richard Nixon's Comprehensive Drug Abuse and Prevention Act of 1970, the DEA, a policing agency tasked with enforcing national drug laws, has the authority to decide how each drug is restricted under the law and whether/where it is produced. This has allowed the DEA to restrict the production of cannabis allowed for federal research to the point of near non-existence.
In a new report titled “ The DEA: Four Decades of Impeding and Rejecting Science,” the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance teamed up with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) to point out the many ways in which the law enforcement agency stifles science.
“This concerns me greatly as someone who has studied marijuana and given thousands of doses of the drug,” said psychiatry professor Carl Hart during a June 11 teleconference about the DEA report.
Hart pointed out the existence of government-funded studies showing “some potential for marijuana” to help people with serious illnesses, for example HIV and AIDS. “The notion that the DEA is has not acknowledged this and thought about reconsidering the scheduling of marijuana just seems to be against the scientific evidence,” he said. “It seems to be against what we’re trying to do in terms of having a society that relies on empirical evidence to base our decisions.”
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2012—2009:
|It's one of the neat things about the Reconstruction Amendments that's sometimes overlooked -- not only do the 13th through 15th Amendments outlaw slavery and involuntary servitude, guarantee the privileges or immunities of all citizens of the United States as well as their right to due process and equal protection -- but the Amendments also expressly authorize Congress to enact further legislation enforcing these provisions.
Among this legislation is the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which finally outlawed various discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the United States. Moreover, the Act in its Section 5 created federal oversight of local elections administration, requiring that those states which had a history of discriminatory voting practices ("covered jurisdictions") couldn't make any changes that affected voting -- couldn't even move the location of a polling place -- without getting "preclearance" from the United States Department of Justice. The idea was, basically, "we're not going to let you have one bad law struck down only to see you try again the next day with some new scheme to screw minority voters -- so before you change anything, see us." That list of covered jurisdictions is here, and not only includes many Southern states but also most of New York City, isolated parts of Michigan and South Dakota, and even some California counties (among other locations).
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