Prologue to the 1995 Rescheduling Petition

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Our society is grappling with very difficult legal, political, and moral questions regarding such issues as the medical use of marijuana, mandatory minimum sentences, and the effective allocation of limited criminal justice system resources. The fair scheduling of marijuana would greatly simplify resolution of many controversies . . .Most of the controversy over marijuana as medicine is based on debate over whether or not the drug has an accepted medical use in the United States. This debate is irrelevant to the substance’s abuse potential and it’s relative scheduling . . . For the last century criminal penalties regarding marijuana have been based on the assumption that marijuana was somehow similar to heroin and other opiates. It isn’t, and scientists have just discovered why. Because of the way our drug laws are written, this scientific discovery has legal significance which obligates the Attorney General to take specific statutory actions. Jon Gettman, Original Letter to Attorney General Janet Reno; October 14, 1994 (356 kb .pdf file)

Your letter . . .has been forwarded to the Drug Enforcement Administration. [A copy of the most recent decision on marijuana’s classification was provided and referenced]. . Thank you for taking the time to write and let us know your views and concerns. DEA Response to Original Letter; January 13, 1995 (25 kb .pdf file)

My letter to the Attorney General addressed the remaining unlitigated criterion [abuse potential] and cited research which was published after the record was closed in [the most recent proceedings]. . . DEA’s Public Affairs office sent me a form letter which did not address a single issue raised in the original inquiry. Jon Gettman First Letter to Senator Warner; January 19, 1995 ( 50 kb .pdf file)

Mr. Gettman is correct in stating that the issue of the abuse potential of marijuana was not addressed in the 1986 – 1994 phase of the administrative proceedings which began in 1972. . . Unless a substance has an accepted medical use in the United States, it can only be placed in Schedule I. Therefore while a reassessment of the abuse potential of marijuana might be of interest to some, the outcome would not affect what can be done through administrative proceedings. Thomas Constantine, DEA Administrator, DEA Response to First Congressional Inquiry; March 1, 1995 (103 kb .pdf file)

Administrator Constantine’s argument is specious and lacks legal foundation. The construction of 21 USC §812, which designates the findings required for placement in a particular schedule, is conjunctive, not disjunctive. All of the findings must be listed for a substance to be scheduled. Furthermore, the Administrator’s argument has been rejected once before by the U.S. Court of Appeals in the case of NORML v. DEA, 559 F.2d 735 (1977) . . . The criteria presented by OTA for the evaluation of a drug’s abuse liability is the basis for my claim that marijuana does not have a significant potential for abuse. Administrator Constantine questions the relevance of these standards. Is the Administrator aware that OTA’s source for these standards is the College on the Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD)? Is the Administrator aware that the standards of the CPDD are the basis for all medical and scientific evaluations by the Department of Health and Human Services of a drug’s abuse potential? On what basis does the Administrator claim that these standards are not relevant to the scheduling of marijuana under the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act? Jon Gettman. Second Letter to Senator Warner; March 15, 1995 (371 kb .pdf file)

DEA routinely re-evaluates the control status of substances when new scientific evidence comes to our attention. We are unaware of any new scientific studies of marijuana that would lead us to re-evaluate its classification at this time; therefore, no such evaluation is now in process nor do we feel it necessary based on the information available to us. If Mr. Gettman has access to scientific data concerning marijuana which he would like to bring to our attention, we will be pleased to consider it should he care to share the documenation with us. (emphasis added) While the Office of Technology Assessment reports to which he referred deal with drug abuse, they provide no new information which would lead us to undertake a re-evaluation of the legal status of this substance. It is DEA’s continued judgement that marijuana is properly placed in Schedule I. Marijuana is a highly abused substance which has no medical use. Thomas Constantine. DEA Response to Second Congressional Inquiry; April 21, 1995 (79 kb .pdf file)

I support the current law which makes it illegal to use, possess, or distribute marijuana. Marijuana is a mind-altering drug that has proven to have negative side effects and can pose a major health risk. Although it has not been proven to be an addictive drug, marijuana can negatively influence an individual’s behavior. Position of Senator Warner; July 14, 1995 (39 kb .pdf file)