Decision To Reschedule Marijuana Could Have Far-Reaching Consequences for Public Health and Safety

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) President Dr. Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy advisor to Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton, issued the following statement today in response to reporting that the Administration has proposed a decision to reverse decades of policy and reduce federal restrictions on marijuana, a psychoactive drug known to come with serious health and mental health consequences. SAM intends to oppose the Attorney General’s decision in the rule making process and to challenge any final rescheduling decision in court. The current move by the Attorney General follows a controversial recommendation by HHS last summer that lacked transparency and scientific basis. Dr. Sabet said:
“Politics and industry influence have loomed over this decision from the very beginning. First, HHS refused to provide the public with the scientific basis for its recommendation to reschedule. Then they deliberately redacted key information about their internal process, intentionally limiting transparency on such a major decision impacting public health. Only when compelled by a legal challenge did they provide clarity on their decision, which patently demonstrated that they cooked the books, starting with the decision and working backward to find the supporting materials.
“Now, against the recommendations of prior Attorneys General, the medical community and law enforcement, the Administration unilaterally reversed decades of precedent despite volumes of data confirming marijuana’s harmfulness. Moreover, a drug can be taken off Schedule I only if it has accepted medical use—raw, crude marijuana has never passed safety and efficacy protocols. A drug isn’t medicine because it’s popular.
“The winners from such a decision are the deep pocketed investors desperately looking for good news in the marijuana space, given the failures of state legalization. We hoped the Administration would prioritize expungements and encouraging additional marijuana research instead of making a political statement that only helps the addiction industry.
“Medical and scientific studies, as well as government data, have conclusively linked THC drugs with addiction, psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, suicidality, and IQ loss, among other impacts. The Administrations’ effort to push through this action in an election year could be perceived as a thinly veiled attempt to reverse polling trends with the principal targets of the pot industry, namely young people.
“This industry, which has lobbied heavily to sell demonstrably harmful products, will now use this announcement to drive even more deliberate misinformation about these high-potency drugs to expand use and addiction.
“I join public health professionals, members of law enforcement, and those working addiction and recovery across the nation in opposing any change to marijuana’s Schedule I status. The public health and safety ramifications for this decision are simply too important for the Administration to act otherwise.”
Additional resources about the shortcomings in HHS’s recommendations and the ramifications of the Biden Administration’s decision can be found here. SAM intends to oppose any rescheduling of marijuana through rule making and legal processes.