Marijuana (still) has no medicinal value, says federal appeals court

Most sane, rational people understand that the cannabis plant has medical properties beneficial to patients who suffer from severe pain, chronic nausea and a number of other conditions. And then you've got the federal government, which has again refused to accept marijuana's medicinal properties.

On Tuesday, the United States Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled on a petition by Americans for Safe Access to reschedule marijuana on the roster of substances maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA currently maintains that cannabis is a Schedule I drug, meaning it has no therapeutic value -- and it'll stay that way for now. In a two-to-one vote, the court determined that there's not enough evidence to support marijuana's medical benefits.

According to the ruling, cannabis should remain more dangerous (and less medically beneficial) than cocaine. The court cited a lack of studies and sided with the government, which requires that Stage II and Stage III clinical trials are conducted.

Of course, for such studies to take place, the government would have to allow them -- something that would pretty much require the feds to re-classify marijuana (which they aren't doing, because there isn't enough evidence to do so). Never mind that the government owns the patent on several cannabinoids because of their potential medical properties. That clearly isn't enough evidence for the judges, either.

"There was no available evidence of adequate, well-controlled studies demonstrating marijuana's safety and effectiveness as a medicine and no consensus among experts as to these issues," the circuit judge wrote in the ruling. "The enactment of state laws allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes did not constitute the required science-based evidence."

Joe Elford, chief attorney for Americans For Safe Access, said the ruling blatantly ignores reality. "To deny that sufficient evidence is lacking on the medical efficacy of marijuana is to ignore a mountain of well-documented studies that conclude otherwise," Elford said in a press release. "The Court has unfortunately agreed with the Obama Administration's unreasonably raised bar on what qualifies as an 'adequate and well-controlled' study, thereby continuing their game of 'Gotcha.'"

Still, Americans for Safe Access sees a silver lining to the ruling. The court agreed that the petitioners had a right to bring the case before the federal government -- and the ASA plans to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

Proponents say that rescheduling cannabis would allow a greater number of people to access the drug, as well as allow for much needed research, specifically into the anti-carcinogenic properties of the plant.

Others have argued that rescheduling would bring on new rules and regulations that would take cannabis away from growers and patients and put it into the hands of Big Pharma. But that's not happening -- at least not yet.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana rule-breaking after Amendment 64 not a problem at resorts, says ski industry group" and "Marijuana: Council's Amendment 64 Committee faces tough questions, has few answers."

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