DEA Chief Under Fire For Calling Medical Marijuana a Joke

DEA Chief Under Fire For Calling Medical Marijuana a Joke

An off-handed comment by the acting chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration about the medicinal value of marijuana is in the news.

Chuck Rosenberg called the medicinal value of marijuana a “joke” in a briefing with reporters.

A group called Marijuana Majority has started an online petition to get Rosenberg fired.

Here’s what administrator Chuck Rosenberg said about medical marijuana, via CBS News and the Washington Post:

“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it’s not,” Rosenberg said in a briefing to reporters. “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” medicinally, he said. “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.”

The Administration considers marijuana a “Schedule 1” controlled substance, which among other things means it has “no currently accepted medical use.” Most researchers reject this claim, however, with organizations including Brookings Institution, the American Medical Association, and the ACLU arguing that the current designation is inappropriate.

Numerous chronic pain physicians and advocates have argued that testing the efficacy of marijuana in treating chronic pain is long overdue, and yet, because of the Schedule 1 designation and resistance by the federal government, no serious clinical trials have been conducted in thtesting mare United States.

There’s no such resistance in Canada, where studies have been underway.

They are finding that medical cannabis appears to be reasonably safe as well as effective in helping to relieve chronic pain — at least in patients who have previously used the drug, a study has found.

The benchmark study, conducted at seven pain-management clinics across Canada, found that patients who used medical marijuana to treat chronic pain had a similar level of serious side-effects as those not using the herb.

Principal investigator Dr. Mark Ware, a pain specialist at the McGill University Health Centre, said researchers found no difference in the rates of serious pot-related adverse events — including the need for hospitalization or death — between the two groups during a year of monitoring patients.

What makes the controversy in the U.S. so vexing is that at least 23 states and the District of Columbia have approved marijuana for medical use. While residents of those states can use marijuana to treat their medical conditions, including notably chronic pain, the federal government doesn’t see fit to demand, urge or even allow clinical tests.

It’s a curious situation made worse by DEA Chief Rosenberg’s comments.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 8 comments for this article
  1. Richard Oberg at 2:20 pm

    Oh, it’s not just marijuana. The DEA, the CDC, and others have always showed contempt for serious chronic pain and don’t believe it exists. How many times have you found anything about patients who benefit at all but rather suggest no one does? Many physicians who once would script for opioid pain meds now won’t since no one is going to review the records of the patients they’re appropriately treating but they will monitor the treating physicians. i’m thrilled these zealots are being exposed for what they are and is anyone really surprised?

  2. Pauly at 10:52 am

    Where can I sign to get him fired??? (Rosenberg)

  3. Toni at 4:35 am

    Rosenberg’s statement proves how little he knows about marijuana – you don’t “smoke the leaf”, you smoke the “bud”. SMH – Since Rosenberg has proven how little he actually knows about marijuana, how ignorant is he about about other pain meds? My guess is incompetently ignorant…IMHO

  4. Brenda Myers at 6:56 pm

    Its people like Rosenberg -thats running an agency that wants chronic pain patients to suffer-
    with nothing for pain and then dogs marijuana which is so effective to help with coping with chronic illness. He called it dangerous? no one has EVER died from marijuana -yet alcohol which is everywhere -causes violence, drunk drivers and you can easily drink yourself to death. And alcohol is so addictive-yet we have no war against that do we? just drugs-its laughable and he is laughable

  5. Brenda Myers at 6:51 pm

    Its people like Rosenberg-who have completely missed how valuablem marrijuana is to sick people-does it cure you? no –

  6. Medea Karr FNP at 5:23 pm

    I’m speechless. The chief of the DEA should be an expert in all the potential uses, both recreational and medicinal, of every substance on our controlled substance list. True we don’t usually advise “smoking the leaf of marijuana” as the primary method of using marijuana for medicine for a variety of health reasons, namely because we don’t recommend smoking anything on a regular basis for lung safety, and because active THC can have some negative side effects in certain patients, especially in the high doses found in most modern marijuana strains. But all forms of the cannabis plant are being researched for medical benefit, and when we use the term “medical marijuana” we generally refer to all forms of it – smoking, vaping, oral teas and tinctures, topicals, CBD capsules, etc. And regardless of my preferences for my pain patients not to “smoke the leaf” of the marijuana plant as their primary route of administration, I can’t deny that before we had fancy vape pens and CBD extracts available that the old fashioned method of smoking cannabis was tremendously helpful for hundreds of thousands of HIV, epilepsy, and cancer patients over the decades. Oops I guess speechless wasn’t really accurate, since I just spewed out quite a bit of speech in this reply. Horrified and disgusted is more accurate. Medea Karr FNP,
    Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Management

  7. Medea Karr FNP at 5:07 pm

    I’m speechless. The chief of the DEA should be an expert in all the potential uses, both recreational and medicinal, of every substance on our controlled substance list. True we don’t advise smoking

  8. Kristine at 3:01 pm

    I can’t imagine that if Rosenberg said this how many other’s feel that way. My doctor in Minnesota told me a year ago that I would be on medical pot by now. Well…I moved to Florida for my health, but the point is the government is going at a snail’s pace to make any improvements in research. To those of us who might benefit from it, and are willing to try it, we are frustrated for sure. Glad you reported on this, Ed.