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Medical Marijuana: Supporters File Federal Lawsuit Against HHS, FDA

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #474)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

The medical marijuana defense group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday against two federal agencies over their contention that marijuana "has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States." The lawsuit names the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as defendants. ASA accused the FDA and HHS of issuing "false and misleading" statements about the medicinal uses of marijuana.

"The FDA position on medical cannabis is incorrect, dishonest and a flagrant violation of laws requiring the government to base policy on sound science," said Joe Elford, ASA chief counsel.

"The science to support medical cannabis is overwhelming, yet the government continues to play politics with the lives of patients desperately in need of pain relief," said ASA executive director Steph Sherer. "Americans for Safe Access is filing this lawsuit on medical cannabis to demand that the FDA stop holding science hostage to politics."

The filing of the lawsuit comes at the end of a two-year petition process during which the FDA and HHS refused to respond to complaints that they were playing politics with the science of medicinal marijuana. The lawsuit charges that the two agencies are violating the Data Quality Act, which requires federal agencies to rely on sound science. The act, originally crafted by industrial lobbyists as a weapon their corporate clients can use in their ongoing battles with federal regulators, also allows citizens to challenge inaccurate information or that based on faulty data.

ASA first filed a petition seeking redress from HHS in October 2004, but the agency refused to act on the petition. ASA appealed in May 2005, to no avail. Now it is taking its challenge to the federal courts.

"Citizens have a right to expect the government to use the best available information for policy decisions. This innovative case turns the Data Quality Act into a tool for the public interest," said preeminent legal scholar and case co-counsel Alan Morrison, who founded Public Citizen's Litigation Group and currently serves as a senior lecturer at Stanford Law School.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

That fact that marijuana is illegal makes it a uncontrolled substance. You have no idea what is inhaled/consumed with each use. It could be tainted with anything, just use your imagination! Piss, snot, draino, pestisides, other drugs..... Other than the smoke, marijuana would be benign and harmless if it were a regulated legal "controlled substance". We all know that illicit use of pot will never end, no matter what the law or current propaganda being spewed .Therefore, I can easily argue, the government is guilty of knowningly poisening it's constituents with each passing day.......... They also know it has therapeutic benifits since "Marinol"(a long used pot derivitive) is used on oncology floors everywhere across the United States for Chemo induced nausea, wasting syndromes and the like.
Marijuana and other illicit drugs are sold by the government, in my opinion. It's painfully obvious to me! Probably the CIA or other elite group...................just follow the $$$$$ and think about who stands to loose the most with legalization.

Sat, 02/24/2007 - 10:08am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

While the government sits on its thumbs debating or ignoring the medicinal uses of marijuana, millions of geniuinely sick individuals risk incarceration and/or heavy fines for possession of this so called "drug". The FDA and DHHS deny any scientific evidence that marijuana consumed for medicinal purposes has any value; however, there are many studies from prominent groups that contradict this. The Federal government is making rulings on facts that simply do not exist, which is unconstitutional. Hurray for the ASA for filing suit against the perpetrators!

Perhaps the DEA, FDA and DHHS should focus on the real problems of this nation such as heroin, alcohol and tobacco abuse? The REAL killers of this nation? How many people are killed daily because of drunk drivers? Cancer from tobacco use? Heroin overdoes? Now compare these numbers to those that use marijuana (for recreation or medicinal).

The ONLY reason I can see that the Federal government bust marijuana users is because it is easier and less dangerous. Marijuana smokers aren't knocking over liquor stores or old ladies to feed their habits. You will usually find them at home, eating cookies and laughing at cartoons; content to stay at home. Generally harmless or they are too sick to leave due to a serious, life threatening illness.

I say if you are going to continue to make marijuana illegal, then you have no other choice but to make alcohol and cigarettes carry the same penalties.

Fri, 06/15/2007 - 8:08pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

My God, you are so right. I beleive if we make a petition against the DEA, FDA, and HHS and actually everyone that really agrees joins in we would win. There is no doubt we would win. Nixon had no idea what he was doing with the whole "war on drugs" thing. That should not even count for nowadays. The only reason marijuana is illegal is because of the strange tradition of the U.S.A.

Mon, 01/19/2009 - 2:03am Permalink

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