This morning, CBS posted a series of quotes from the newly appointed DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg regarding the legitimacy of medical marijuana. In his statement, he says that marijuana is not medicinal, and that smoking it has never been shown to be a safe or effective form of treatment for various conditions.

“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it’s not. We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine —that is a joke.”

“There are pieces of marijuana — extracts or constituents or component parts — that have great promise. But if you talk about smoking the leaf of marijuana — which is what people are talking about when they talk about medicinal marijuana — it has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine.”

Previously, Rosenberg served as a federal prosecutor for nearly a decade before working as a U.S. attorney in Virginia. He worked closely with former Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller as well, and was the FBI’s chief of staff under Director James Comey.

It’s clear to us here that as a lifelong Washington bureaucrat, Rosenberg has lost his grip on the reality of medical marijuana usage in this country. To say that it cannot be used as medicine is laughable. Here’s a quick list of only some of its proven and studied benefits (Business Insider):

  • When smoked, it can lower intraocular pressure in people with normal pressure and those with glaucoma
  • According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, it does not impair lung function and can even increase lung capacity
  • Cannabinoids, like tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as THC), can control seizures by binding to the brain cells responsible for controlling excitability and regulating relaxation
  • Acts as a light sedative, reducing anxiety in its users in addition to relieving pain and curbing nausea
  • Turns off the ID-1 gene, effectively increasing the body’s production of non-cancerous cells which spread to stop cancer
  • Slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by reducing the formation of amyloid plaques (which kill brain cells and cause Alzheimer’s), through blocking the enzyme in the brain that makes them
  • Eases the pain of multiple sclerosis
  • Lessens the side effects of Hep C treatments
  • Soothes the symptoms of diseases like Crohn’s, Parkinson’s, inflammatory bowel disease, Lupus, arthritis, PTSD, etc.

The list goes on and on.

When people refer to medicinal marijuana, they are most often referring to all its types and uses. Rosenberg’s claim that “people” are talking only about “smoking the leaf” when they bring it up is false, and a very clear sign of his lack of knowledge on the subject. It would seem that he is attempting to cement the issue in the political realm rather than fully explore the option from a health standpoint. Also, no one smokes the actual leaf.

Through his quotes, it’s obvious that Rosenberg is allowing mainstream stereotypes and outdated modes of thinking to shape his conclusions for him. As someone in charge of our country’s Drug Enforcement Agency, he should be one of the most educated persons on the topic, by definition. To hear him perpetuating one of the nation’s last forms of silly – and detrimental- prohibition is disappointing to say the least.

Do your homework, Chuck.


H/T: CBS News, Business Insider