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February 2005
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They’ve got until tomorrow to answer

February 4 is an important deadline for Health and Human Services, and I’m curious to see what will happen.
Here’s the background: As I’ve discussed at length in previous posts (here’s one example), the government has unfairly blocked and delayed approval procedures for medical marijuana for years and years. They developed practically circular systems of review that allowed them to put off appeal after appeal without even exiting the DEA structure. However, a new law was put into place — The Data Quality Act — that “gives people the right to challenge scientific information disseminated by federal agencies. The law demands that agencies respond to petitions within two months.” Nice. Finally a way to get a fast response to something. Not approval for medical marijuana, but perhaps a way to make the government own up to their lies.
On October 4, 2004, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), filed a petition to Health and Human Services charging the agency with spreading inaccurate information about marijuana’s medical value.
On December 4, 2004, Health and Human Services filed for a 2-month extension to answer the petition. Of course. Now, that extension is up tomorrow. I’m not sure if they’re allowed to file for more extensions, but eventually that’s got to stop or a judge is going to step in and stomp on them.
But just to be sure, let them know at HHS that you’re paying attention. Send them an email telling them to answer the petition. (It’ll only take a few seconds.)
And quite frankly, I have no idea how HHS will answer it, although I can’t wait to see their answer. ASA was pretty gutsy with their petition. The petition also contains lots of reference materials backing up their position, but here is the actual petition request:

RELIEF REQUESTED: ASA requests the following corrections:

HHS states that “there have been no studies that have scientifically assessed the efficacy of marijuana for any medical condition,” which is disseminated on federal government websites (http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fedreg/a010418c.html, http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/fed_regs/notices/2001/fr0418/fr0418a.htm ) and in the Federal Register, 66 Fed.Reg. 20038, 20052 (April 18, 2001).
ASA requests that HHS replace this statement with the following statement: “Adequate and well-recognized studies show the efficacy of marijuana in the treatment of nausea, loss of appetite, pain and spasticity.”
HHS states that “a material conflict of opinion among experts precludes a finding that marijuana has been accepted by qualified experts” and “it is clear that there is not a consensus of medical opinion concerning medical applications of marijuana,” which are disseminated on the government websites and in the Federal Register, 66 Fed.Reg. 20038, 20052 (April 18, 2001).
ASA requests that HHS replace this statement with the following statement: “There is substantial consensus among experts in the relevant disciplines that marijuana is effective in treating nausea, loss of appetite, pain and spasticity. It is accepted as medicine by qualified experts.”
HHS states that “a complete scientific analysis of all the chemical components found in marijuana has not been conducted,” which is disseminated on the government websites and in the Federal Register, 66 Fed.Reg. 20038, 20051 (April 18, 2001).
ASA requests that HHS replace this statement with the following statement: “The chemistry of marijuana is known and reproducible.”
HHS states that marijuana “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” which is disseminated on the government websites and in the Federal Register, 66 Fed.Reg. 20038, 20039 (April 18, 2001).
Based on the corrections above, ASA requests that HHS replace this statement with the following statement: “Marijuana has a currently accepted use in treatment in the United States.”

Will there be an answer, or another extension?

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Crunching the numbers on Caballes

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A few fairly obvious problems occur to me belatedly. The first is that to the extent that law enforcement officers now feel increased license to do indiscriminate sweeps, the conditions under which prior accuracy rates were ascertained in the field no longer apply. …

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