DEA Chief Says Medical Marijuana 'Is a Joke'

He's wrong.


Fox News

Chuck Rosenberg, acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, is in some respects an improvement on his predecessor, Michele Leonhart, who famously refused to comment on the relative hazards of marijuana and heroin. Rosenberg, by contrast, conceded last August that "heroin is clearly more dangerous than marijuana." This week, even as he called marijuana legalization "misguided and wrong and stupid," Rosenberg conceded that it's too early to say what the consequences will be in states such as Colorado and Washington:

Yeah, there are effects. Do we see them clearly today? No. But it's starting to come more clearly into focus. Will we start to see it clearly in five to 10 years? I bet we will.

Rosenberg even implicitly admitted that the distinctions drawn by our drug laws are arbitary. "I don't agree with it," he said, referring to legal pot. "I think it's dangerous. I don't recommend it. But there's other stuff in our society that's dangerous that's perfectly legal."

But in discussing the medical use of marijuana, Rosenberg sounded very much like an unreconstructed drug warrior in the Leonhart mold. Smoked marijuana—as opposed to "extracts or constituents or component parts"—"has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine," he told reporters on Wednesday, and it's "ludicrous" to treat it as such. "What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal, because it's not," he said. "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."

It's true that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized whole-plant marijuana as "safe and effective." But it approved synthetic THC (Marinol, a.k.a. Dronabinol) as a medicine 30 years ago, which means marijuana's main psychoactive ingredient is an officially recognized medicine. It therefore stands to reason that marijuana is at least "effective." As for safety, inhaling any sort of smoke poses potential health risks, but that is not the only way to consume marijuana—a fact that Rosenberg conveniently ignores. Patients can get their medicine from vaporizers that heat marijuana to release the cannabinoids without generating smoke, vape pens that do something similar with cannabis oil, marijuana-infused foods or beverages, transdermal patches, melt-in-your-mouth lozenges or strips, and oral sprays. If Sativex, a cannabis extract spray that has been approved by drug regulators in other countries and may soon be approved by the FDA, counts as a real medicine, it is hard to see why the products sold in medical marijuana dispensaries don't.

Possibly what Rosenberg means is that much of what passes for medical marijuana use is recreational use in disguise. But that issue is distinct from the question of whether marijuana can in fact alleviate bona fide patients' symptoms, which is beyond serious dispute, and whether the risks it poses are acceptable, which seems pretty clear if you compare marijuana's potential side effects to those of government-approved pharmaceuticals. Rosenberg thinks only the FDA, as opposed to patients and their doctors, should be making these judgments. Many Americans disagree, believing that people who find that a plant relieves their suffering should not have to beg the government's permission to use it. Pace Rosenberg, that's no joke.

NEXT: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball

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  1. Possibly what Rosenberg means is that much of what passes for medical marijuana use is recreational use in disguise.

    More likely it’s an example of the level of arrogance they believe his position requires. It’s either the arrogant belief that he actually can know that given the limited research that’s permitted in the area, or it’s the arrogant belief that he can make such a blanket proclamation he knows could be false and have it stick.

    1. He can make that statement knowing that the AARP believes him. In a few years, not so much. Prohibition is ending, one funeral at a time.

      1. It doesn’t even need the funerals. Many of my elder once-staunch drug warrior acquaintances change their tune quite rapidly when the big C gets em and the chemo makes em puke their guts out for days and weeks at a time.

        1. My Mom (96) changed her tune when a cousin got 10 years for pot.

          1. I prefer marijuana to be illegal.

            It gets people in the habit of breaking laws at an early age so that by the time they’re adults, it’s no big deal to break ANY law. And it’s not like the DEA has any affect on the supply of pot when it is illegal.

            Not only that but when our corrupt government institutes stupid laws it breeds disrespect for ALL government institutions.
            An outlaw mentality will keep America free!

            Go get em Black Lives Matter!

            DO your thing!

            1. If pot prohibition had no downsides, like broken down doors, flash grenades burning babies, family pets killed, trashed homes from searches, public humiliation, lost time and money going to court, job loss, etc., I might agree with you. I remember seeing a billboard that said “Respect the law.”, to which my response was “Give us laws we can respect.”

    2. You see, people might be having fun. And unapproved fun is the most worst kind. The piles of dead bodies all over Washington from pot needle overdoses are evidence enough.

  2. Spot on Chuck. Smoking legal dope could lead to DEA agents having orgies with prostitutes supplied by Colombian drug cartels

    1. No way. Only illegal dope can do that.

    2. It seems that effect seeped over to the secret service.

      1. Heroes get more latitude when it comes to the law.

    3. Ooh, burn!

  3. Get cancer, Rosenberg.

    1. This. So much.

    2. Please. But in your last few minutes of life, DIE IN A FIRE!

    3. Rosenberg is certainly more likely to get cancer, since he doesn’t smoke cannabis. Cannabis smokers were shown, in one study by NIDA’s chief anti-cannabis researcher, to have lower incidence of cancer than non-smokers.

  4. The DA turned into such a bummer when the squares took it over.

  5. The joke is the DEA and it’s on all of us.

    1. Yes, and a sick joke at that.

  6. “We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous…”

    Well, WE can. I think you already failed with that line Chuck.

    1. Yeah, there are effects. Do we see them clearly today? No.

      This is the kind of honest debate he has with himself.

      1. To be honest, the whole statement is true.

        Consuming marijuana in any way has effects on your body. The government’s ridiculous restrictions on marijuana make it impossible for us to know what those might be in the short, medium, and long terms. And this is on top of the fact that we have terrible methodology for discovering what effects things in our bodies have on our bodies, anyway.

        Where his statement is dishonest, is the unspoken assumption that goes with it: “Because it’s drugs. Drugs are bad, mmmkay?” When, in reality, you can say the same thing about carrots.

        Consuming carrots has effects on your body. Because we have terrible methodology for discovering what effects things in our bodies have on our bodies, we have no idea what effects carrots might have in the short, medium, and long term.

        1. WW2 British flyers were ordered to eat excessive amounts of carrots with the idea that they improved eyesight. A distinguishing feature of these Britons was that the sclera (the white of the eye) had turned orange.
          Yes, eating too many carrots has an effect on the body.

          1. Eat enough carrots and your skin, not just the sclera, will turn orange.
            Sola dosis facit venenum.

  7. The DEA along with the drug war is un Constitutional and should be abolished.

    1. And everyone that ever worked for the the DEA should be forced to provide slave labor to everyone they helped convict. And yes, that includes sex trafficking. At the nearest prison.

  8. Legal mareejewanah has been shown to stop seizures. Asset seizures that is.

    That is what has Chuck pissing his pants.

  9. In a couple of hundred years the DEA will have a historical reputation somewhere in between the madness of the Inquisition and the brutality of the Tonton Macoute.

    1. +1 Cardinal Baby Doc

      1. +1 Gram Green

    2. “In a couple of hundred years the DEA will have a historical reputation somewhere in between….”

      I can only assume we’re talking about a Fallout-esque, future-primitive dystopia, where the alphabet-agencies will be vaguely remembered as a pantheon of vengeful, irrational Gods… with an endless, bizarre array of mandated and prohibited rituals, and an uniformed army of priests who demanded regular human sacrifices

      basically, no different than they are now.

      1. OK, OK. I admit it. I can barely wait until the 11th.

  10. keep dope alive

    DEA Chief Says Medical Marijuana ‘Is a Joke’

    What else would one expect from the head of the DEA.

    The cigarette, big mac, the car, the gun are all legal and each thing I mentioned kill at an exponential rate compared to Weed (please don’t ask for a citation….this is my guess and I think I’m right).

    1. Well any number divided by zero gives an indeterminate result. Mathematically. Now if you approach zero from the positive side the closer you get to zero the closer the result of the division is to positive infinity. If you approach from the negative side you get closer to negative infinity.

      So far no one has died as a direct result of cannabis toxicity. Ever.

      1. No one has died as the direct result of a big mac, either.

        There are hazards to marijuana consumption, but they are anecdotal, at best, and tend to be social harms rather than medical. “They’ll be too lazy to work and mooch off of welfare!” and such. I’m sure you could find cases of that, but you could find just as many alcoholics or WoW players that would do the same. It’s a human and economic condition, not a drug condition.

        The few medical effects we have are vague (Because we aren’t allowed to study the stuff) and tend to be based on self-assessments of participants’ history with and without marijuana.

    2. DEA Chief Says Medical Marijuana ‘Is a Joke’

      ATF Chief says civilian access to guns is a joke.

      FDA Chief says e-cigarettes are a joke.

      EPA Chief says data to the contrary is a joke.

      NSA Chief says privacy concerns are a joke.

      …anyone starting to see a pattern here?

      1. Federal bureaucrats have great senses of humor?

  11. “Well, Mr. Prosecutor, so long as you’re giving medical advice, could you prescribe me some Accutane, my acne is pretty bad.

    “What do you mean you’re not allowed to do that? I thought you had medical expertise?”

    1. “Oh, I see, the law doesn’t trust you to prescribe acne medication. And you support that law?

      “Well, then, if the laws which you support don’t trust your expertise on treating *acne,* why should I listen to you on whether MJ is useful to treat other medical conditions?”

    2. Well, I read Faux News. That means I’m qualified, right?

  12. “Will we start to see it clearly in fuve to 10 years? I bet we will.”

    It starts with frontal lobe degeneration, often signaled by difficulty with spelling common words.

  13. When the Drug War Crimes Trials come, this cocksucker should be the first one on the gibbet.

    1. Bill Bennett is first in line. Of those still alive.

      1. The trap door on the gallows should be connected to a slot machine. When Bennett wins, it triggers the door.

        1. Let’s not forget how, as “drug czar” he was unable to kick the habit on his drug of choice – nicotine.

  14. Why is marijuana bad? Because people enjoy it. It’s nothing but Puritanism.

  15. Nuremburg, PA awaits.

  16. If only Obama knew that his own people were undermining his policy!

    He would have this Rosenberg guy fired – but alas, he isn’t aware of what the guy said.

  17. Law and Order: Seattle Edition

    Teen has dreams of career in municipal services

    “An 18-year-old with a learner’s driving permit stole a garbage truck in Seattle and went on a “destructive tour” of downtown on Tuesday, crashing into parked cars and a bike rack before hitting another waste truck, police said.

    The teen hopped into the driver’s seat of the truck in the dense Capitol Hill neighborhood after harassing the driver early on Tuesday morning, Seattle Police Department Detective Patrick Michaud said.”

    “Hackers” heavy-handed with metaphors

    “A man brandishing a machete was arrested on Thursday during a protest in Seattle to call attention to corporate greed and poverty, police and local media said.

    About 50 people attended the protest march, which wound past federal buildings and police headquarters before reaching the campus of e-commerce company Amazon near downtown, the Seattle Times reported.

    The protest was part of a wider movement to draw attention to income inequality, corporate practices and internet freedom, organized by hacking group Anonymous.”

    1. It can be a medicine when packed into a pill, but if it looks like a doobie, it’s not medicine.

      This is the scientific consensus, people, are you anti-science or something?

      1. I’m a retired aerospace engineer. Of course I’m anti-science.

        1. I should have mentioned that I’m being sarcastic.

  18. “Recreational” use is mostly self medication for undiagnosed PTSD. Or as Dennis Peron liked to say. “All use is medical use.”

    PTSD is thought to affect about 10% of the population. And pot users are about 10% of the population. Proof? No. Studies need to be done. None of any size have ever been done on this question. I wonder why?

  19. Donald Tashkin showed that smoked cannabis was effective in preventing lung cancer. But the study was not large enough to provide statistically significant results. About 10 years ago. So was a larger study ever done? No.

  20. The FDA will not make any decision until cannabis comes off Schedule 1 so human trials can start. Then there will be a wait for results.

    As long as human trials are not allowed the FDA will be silent.

  21. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go? to tech tab for work detail,,,,,,,


  22. Whats a real joke is allowing DEA agents to have sex with hookers, do drugs, lie, cheat and steal and receive bounces for the trouble. No DEA agent is ever held accountable for breaking the law. The DEA just wants to continue to use forfeiture against U.S. citizens for no reason.

  23. “has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine,”

    Yes, it’s not real medicine unless it has at least three pages of very small type of side affects, most of which are worst than the disease itself. Real medicine will require you to continue to go with the doctors to give you more medication to treat the problems you get with the current meds. Real medication continues to pour money into pharma.

  24. I know people that only use it medicinally. It works for them. It reduces stress, and redirects pain.Simple. In fact, it’s less harmful than the prescription drugs sold to our citizenry. Why would anyone prefer prescription medicines that cause more deaths each year than illegal drugs like heroin over pot? How stupid.

    The real issue is that pot is ranked up there with heroin. That’s absurd. It should be legalized in the same fashion as alcohol and cigarettes. Anything less is an unconstitutional infringement on an adult’s right to live his or her life without interference from the government.

  25. The real joke is the decision making skills of people who keep putting “professionals” in the position that have no reason to be practicing medicine without a license!

  26. Another thing that Rosenberg ignores is that many of these safer methods of ingesting marijuana, like vaporizers, transdermal patches, and melt in your mouth lozenges and strips, even FDA- approved Marinol, came about because of dispensaries, and before that, because of people who illegally used marijuana despite his agency’s efforts, noticed improvements in their conditions, and reported them to their doctors.

  27. Vote Wood Chipper 2016

  28. A 1/4 or 1/2 dose of the edible cookies are such a great sleep aid that should replace Ambien for many. My cancer friends gain appetite and can eat. That is a good thing. . . . Right Martha Stewart?

  29. Re: dronabinol. It should be noted that most drug synthesis processes produce dextro- and levorotatory forms in equal quantities, but in nature biochemicals are almost always either one or the other. This chirality bias in living organisms should (but essentially never does) imply to medical researchers that only half of a synthetic drug is the effective form, and the other should be assumed dangerous. (For example, only one of the stereoisomers of thalidomide is teratogenic). Both the trans and cis forms of delta9-THC found in marijuana plants are exclusively dextrorotatory, so that if dronabinol has levo- forms as well it should be presumed *less* safe and effective than the plant extract.

    Like that’s going to happen.

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