DEA removes controversial marijuana information from website

Emily Gray Brosious

February 15, 2017: 3:36 PM CT

DEA removes controversial marijuana information from website(Image credit: Alex Milan Tracy/Demotix/Corbis)

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Americans for Safe Access (ASA) declared partial victory on Monday, Feb. 13, reporting the United States Drug Enforcement Administration had removed “factually inaccurate” information about marijuana from its website after months of legal pressure from the marijuana advocacy group.

A DEA publication titled “The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse” is no longer available on the agency’s live website. ASA says the 44-page publication was taken offline in response to a legal petition the group filed with the Justice Department on Dec. 5, 2016.

ASA’s legal petition claims the DEA’s website contained at least 25 false statements about cannabis and violated the Information Quality Act prohibiting administrative agencies from disseminating false information to the public.

“The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse” publication contained 23 of the 25 factual inaccuracies listed in ASA’s petition, including assertions that marijuana is a gateway drug, that it causes irreversible cognitive decline in adults and that it contributes to psychosis and lung cancer.

Steph Sherer, executive director of ASA, described the publication’s takedown in a news release as “a big first step” and “a victory for medical cannabis patients.”

“We are pleased that in the face of our request the DEA withdrew some of the damaging misinformation from its website,” Vickie Feeman of the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, said in the release. “However, the DEA continues to disseminate many damaging facts about the health risks of medical cannabis and patients across the country face ongoing harm as a result of these alternative facts.”

DEA spokesperson Russ Baer tells Extract the digital publication was temporarily taken offline for revisionary purposes and says the move was not a direct response to ASA’s legal petition.

Despite the DEA’s temporary takedown, ASA says the agency has not officially responded to its legal petition and is now more than one week past a deadline requiring it to do so.

“We are hopeful the DEA will also remove the remaining statements rather than continue to mislead the public in the face of the scientifically proven benefits of medical cannabis,” Feeman said.

Baer says the DEA has no plans to alter its position on marijuana.

“Despite recent ballot initiatives, we maintain that marijuana is a dangerous substance and is rightfully listed as Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act,” he said in a phone call.

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Gallery source links:

Mike Pence – Leafly, On The Issues, NORML; Reince Priebus – The Denver Post; Rex Tillerson – CNN, CNN; John Kelly – CBS News, Drug Policy Alliance, Military Times; Mike Pompeo – NPR, Vote Smart; Nikki Haley – CNN, Tenth Amendment Center; Steven Mnuchin – NBC News, Senate Committee on Finance; Jeff Sessions – USA Today, Politico; Ryan Zinke – Americans for Safe Access, Vote Smart; Sonny Perdue – On The Issues; Hemp Business Journal; David Shulkin – Department of Veterans Affairs/Scribd; Tom Price – NORML; Scott Pruitt – Associated Press; Rick Perry – “The Hugh Hewitt Show”; Mick Mulvaney – NORML

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