Grassley Says Marijuana Prohibition Is 'Based on What Science Tells Us'


Senate Judiciary Committee

At this week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on marijuana legalization, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) made a statement about the Controlled Substances Act that highlights the intellectual bankruptcy of the prohibitionist position:

Marijuana's continued presence on the statute's list of illegal substances isn't based on whim. It's based on what science tells us about this dangerous and addictive drug. There's a process that exists to move drugs on and off that list, but the scientific standard to do that hasn't yet been met for marijuana.

To say that marijuana prohibition is based on a whim may give the legislators who originally enacted it too much credit. Shortly before the House of Representatives approved a federal ban on marijuana in 1937, the Republican minority leader, Bertrand Snell of New York, confessed, "I do not know anything about the bill." The Democratic majority leader, Sam Rayburn of Texas, educated him. "It has something to do with something that is called marihuana," Rayburn said. "I believe it is a narcotic of some kind."

Seventy-six years later, the scientific basis for keeping marijuana illegal is not much more rigorous, despite what Grassley seems to think. In 1970 Congress put marijuana on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, supposedly reserved for drugs with a high abuse potential and no accepted medical value that cannot be used safely even under a doctor's supervision. Marijuana meets none of those criteria, especially when you compare it with less restricted drugs such as morphine, cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines, all of which are on Schedule II or lower. Even marijuana's main psychoactive ingredient, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is on Schedule III, provided it is produced in a pharmaceutical plant rather than a cannabis plant.

Last Friday marked the 25th anniversary of a ruling in which the Drug Enforcement Administration's own chief administrative law judge, Francis Young, concluded that marijuana did not meet the criteria for Schedule I. Young declared it "abundantly clear" that marijuana has "a currently accepted medical use" and called it "one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man." He was overruled by DEA Administrator John Lawn, and all of Lawn's successors, including the current one, have stubbornly maintained the absurd position that marijuana is less useful and more dangerous than the drugs in Schedules II and below. The Obama administration's defense of marijuana's Schedule I status may be the most striking way in which the president has broken his promise to disentangle science from politics.

Yet Grassley, who displayed a similar respect for reality when he crusaded against the apparently mythical menace of candy-flavored meth, claims the DEA's persistent refusal to reschedule marijuana is "based on what science tells us about this dangerous and addictive drug." We may have been better off when members of Congress openly admitted they were legislating out of ignorance.

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  1. You totally smoked Grassley with evidence!

  2. Quibble: I am not a chemist, but it looks like there are at least six types of morphine listed as Schedule I.

    1. Most of them are used only in veterinary settings, it looks like.

    2. Including thebacon. Which sounds delicious.

      But “morphine” refers to morphine, not everything derived from it.

  3. It’s based on what science tells us about this dangerous and addictive drug.

    Because we all now that the DEA and the PDFA are all about the science and never use hyperbole or lie outright.

    1. It’s about money and power. The DEA is essentially a Union. They create jobs, money and wealth by keeping as many drugs on the Sch I list as possible.

      It has nothing to do with safety.

      1. It’s a moral issue. Getting high is just wrong. It’s immoral to smoke something for pleasure. No one should do that because it’s bad for society.

        On the other hand, the adrenaline high drug agents get when they smash down doors and terrorize families is a natural high and perfectly acceptable. There’s nothing wrong with it at all because it’s natural. But smoking for pleasure is wrong. Unless its a cigar.

  4. Man bites dog: Schumer on the right(ish) side of an issue. Of course, that’s because he has Feinstein on the other side to be even worse. I don’t think his definition is expansive enough, but at least unlike Feinstein (who wanted to define things so that, e.g., Wikileaks didn’t count as doing journalism), he acknowledges that ” You first have to realize that the world has changed, and not everything occurs in print from people who work seven days a week at journalism. There are fine journalists that don’t do that anymore.”

    1. Damn it, now I need a new clock. Thanks, Thacker.

  5. In Grassley’s day, science was moved along thanks to the spice trade.

  6. If Grassley somehow found himself in a wood chipper, the world would not be a worse place.

  7. If we can save only one child’s life from an emjay overdose, it will all have been worth it.

    1. Well if you would just stop injecting children with liters of THC…

  8. He reminds me of the Simpsons:

    “Grampa! Did you sit on the apple pie?’

    “I hope so…”

    1. OR

      Bart: “I’m going to tell you a story that will make you wet your pants!”

      Grampa: “Too late!”

  9. Let’s say pot kills everyone who uses it. WTF does that have to do with any of Congress’ enumerated powers?

    1. Interstate Commerce Clause, bitches. It’s not just a dessert topping.


      1. Does this have something to do with food deserts?

        1. No, only the just desserts those evil dopers are getting in prison!


    2. General Welfare, man. Who are you to decide what’s best for you?

  10. Is that the same science that told Akin that a woman can’t get pregnant from rape?

    1. The body can shut that whole thing down with proper application of Prana-Bindu mastery.

  11. The Ghastly Senator Grassley, the Shame of Iowa.

    Good thing we let these idiots exert so much control over who will run for president.

    1. Him, Tom Harkin…what is it with that state?

      1. Corn syrup. It rots the brain.

      2. We tried to nominate Ron Paul last time around, but the RNC put an end to that.

  12. Grassley Says Marijuana Prohibition Is ‘Based on What Science Tells Us’

    “…even though it’s illegal to scientifically study Marijuana because of US Law.”

    1. It’s not new at all. It’s an adaptor that makes it easier to repeatedly slam your finger into the trigger as quickly as possible. Basically, it’s horribly inaccurate, weaksauce full-auto for people who don’t know a guy who knows a guy.

  13. Lying. Sack. Of. Shit.

  14. Another senile old dinosaur who needs to go extinct.

    You’ve lost this one, gramps. So go have a nice retirement. Did you know that you can put vodka in your prune juice?, and you can have it for breakfast, every day!

  15. He represents corn fields and is just sticking it in the craw of all those wackbirds that tried to cut his corn subsidy.

  16. disentangle science from politics

    lol….good one

  17. “Marijuana’s continued presence on the statute’s list of illegal substances isn’t based on whim. It’s based on what science tells us about this dangerous and addictive drug because we don’t want the brown people enjoying themselves too much.”


  18. NPR had a discussion of prescription drug abuse on the Diane Rehm show this morning.

    They included an interesting twist: all of the pain-med seeking druggies are gumming up the works at emergency rooms and we have people dying in the ER because they are too busy running every conceivable test on someone who is looking to score an unneeded pain script.

    So we need more controls on Oxycontin and other pain meds.

    It never seemed to occur to any of their “experts” that if we simply quit worrying about someone else wanting to get high the problems they cite would all go away (pill mills, black markets, overdose and bad drug interactions, diversion of resources…) Their tunnel vision won’t allow them to imagine a world where getting high is perfectly legal and doesn’t require a permission slip.

    Imagine if you will a world in which you could market drugs for recreational use like alcohol is currently. Instead of trying to engineer the high out of opioid pain killers, chemists could engineer out the other side effects and enhance the high. Then the government could enforce their product safety regulations to their hearts content.

    But no, that’s “unthinkable”.

  19. The science in question is econ; the gov’t employees unions make too much money off of the prohibition to change.

  20. “Marijuana’s continued presence on the statute’s list of illegal substances isn’t based on whim. It’s based on what science tells us about this dangerous and addictive drug the fact that marijuana is a weed, and as we all know weeds are bad for corn.”

    Alternate FIFA…

  21. Grassley shows himself to be as cluelessly arrogant as it gets. We need to retire these people from public service (that is to say, from servicing the public good and hard) ASAP.

  22. Martha Stewart must be pissed about going to jail for lying to federal officials.

  23. And I suppose if science told Charles Grassley to go jump in the lake, he’d do it?

  24. suck my dick, Grassley. Fuck the Feds.

  25. Marijuana’s status as an illegal drug “isn’t based on a whim,” Senator Grassley said. “It’s based on what science tells us about this dangerous and addictive drug.”

    Actually Senator Grassley you should be old enough to remember the way that marijuana was placed on schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act:

    The Congress asked the Department of Health, Education and Welfare for their recommendation where marijuana should be placed in the Controlled Substances Act. The response, by letter of 8/14/70, of the Assistant Secretary for Health and Scientific Affairs [Roger O.
    Egeberg] is as follows:

    “…Some question has been raised whether the use of the plant itself produces ‘severe psychological or physical dependence’ as required by a schedule I or even schedule II criterion. Since there is still a considerable void in our knowledge of the plant and effects of the active drug contained in it, our recommendation is that marihuana be retained within schedule I at least until the completion of certain studies now underway to resolve the issue. If those studies* make it appropriate for the Attorney General to change the placement of marihuana to a different schedule, he may do so in accordance with the authority provided under section 201 of the bill..”

    1. cont.

      *”Those studies” were concluded in the 1972 Schafer Commission report, which recommended removing marijuana from the scheduling system and decriminalizing it. President Nixon rejected their recommendation. Instead, Tricky Dick Nixon stuck us with has become a 1.3 Trillion dollar War on Drugs.

      In fact Senator Grassley, marijuana was placed on schedule I due to a lack of evidence. Nixon and you sir, ignored the science so that you could continue spreading lies about this incredible natural herbal medicine. In the entire history of mankind’s association with this plant that goes back to before the stone age, no one has ever died of an overdose solely of marijuana. Stop lying to the American people. We don’t believe you anymore!

  26. I’ve always wondered whether there is some sort of secret government project considered absolutely essential to national security…and something in cannabis (other than THC) immunizes you against it.

    It’s the only thing I can think of that would provide a rational explanation for why the federal government is so absolutely dead set on keeping cannabis at Schedule I even though THC is only Schedule III.

  27. I think I may have found the reason that Sen Grassley is so dead set against legalization of marijuana: Iowa has the largest racial disparity in the country of arrests in marijuana possession, with blacks being more than eight times as likely to be arrested than whites, even though whites use marijuana at about the same rate, a national American Civil Liberties Union study has found. The report is based on data collected from the FBI and U.S. Census Bureau. It found that on average nationally in 2010, a black person was 3.7 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana as a white person. Iowa has the highest racial disparity rate in the country with a black person being 8.34 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as a white person. I wonder how many blacks in Iowa have lost the right to vote due to the war on marijuana. Sen Grassley is either a blatant racist or he is highly invested in private prisons or both.

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