The Obama Administration’s Drug Czar Michael Botticelli chatted it up on Politico’s Pulse Check podcast recently where he discussed the federal government’s approach to drug addiction and rehabilitation, among other topics. But Botticelli did take a moment to discuss marijuana, and specifically the government’s historical role in making it difficult for researchers to study the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
Speaking with Dan Diamond, the host of Pulse Check, Botticelli was asked about the DEA’s decision in August to maintain cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic. The Drug Czar replied, “Our office does not have a formal role in that,” referring to the decision by the DEA to keep marijuana classified as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and LSD.
After washing his hands of the DEA’s decision, and denying his office was culpable in keeping marijuana a Schedule I drug, he stated the Obama administration had made it one of their priorities to investigate cannabis’ health benefits.
However, he then went on to confirm what had long been a conspiracy theory of sorts — that the federal government purposely prevented marijuana from being researched for its therapeutic benefits.
Botticelli confirmed suspicions that the feds have purposefully kept marijuana from being thoroughly researched for positive health benefits when he said, “I do think it’s a somewhat fair criticism that the government hasn’t wholly supported research to really investigate what’s the potential therapeutic value.”
The Drug Czar then claimed the Obama administration and the DEA have done “a number of things to promote good scientific research” and “diminish some of the barriers (to research)” of cannabis, although he did not specify what those things were.
The brief discussion of marijuana was a part of a larger address Botticelli aimed at opiate addiction and the government’s response to focus more on treatment rather than prosecution. But as The Free Thought Project has recently reported, the DEA’s decision to classify Kratom as a Schedule I narcotic seems to be at odds with Botticelli’s claims the government wants to focus more on treatment for opiate addiction. That’s because Kratom, a natural plant, has been useful in helping heroin and opiate addicts get off the drugs, whether they be street heroin or prescription pills.
And by making the highly unusual move to classify Kratom as a Schedule I drug, just as a bipartisan group of Congressmen stated, the DEA has made the unfortunate decision to further hamper Kratom research which is currently ongoing. Those studies show promise for Kratom’s ability to mitigate opiate withdrawal symptoms. And it’s not just Kratom that researchers are saying helps opiate addicts kick the addictive opiates. Weed appears to do the same.
As the Boston Herald reported in 2015, doctors in Massachusetts are having great success in getting heroin addicts off of their addictive opiates and onto marijuana, a non-addictive substance. According to the Herald, doctors treated “80 patients who were addicted to opioids, muscle relaxers or anti-anxiety medication with cannabis using a one-month tapering program,” and added, “More than 75 percent of those patients stopped taking the harder drugs.”
“What we are seeing is that, in follow-up visits, patients have decreased and even eliminated their opioids,” said Dr. Uma Dhanabalan of Uplifting Health and Wellness in Natick. He said the current approved therapy to use drugs like Methadone to treat opiate addiction is counter-intuitive by saying, “It’s a problem when we are replacing one synthetic opioid with another synthetic opioid because, guess what … synthetic opioids kill, cannabis does not.”
To recap the DEA’s movements over the last 45 days, they refused to even consider removing marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic, and even added Kratom to their list (official regulation still pending), even though both plants can and are being used to help heroin and opiate addicts get off of their life-threatening drugs. And now the Obama administration’s own Drug Czar, charged with helping to combat the heroin epidemic in the U.S., admits more must be done to research cannabis’ health benefits. By doing so, the DEA’s decision to put Kratom on the banned drug list, and to keep cannabis on the list, makes both more difficult to research, leaving more questions than answers. Go figure.
Something has to give. The DEA has to stop fighting the will of the people, realizing 25 states and D.C. already have successful medical marijuana programs, with more states poised to follow suit this November. And the outgoing administration, along with the successive administrations, must join forces with the DEA to prevent the enforcement agency from criminalizing plants which can help Americans prevent and treat opiate addiction.
07 Oct Professor Mike Barnes Speaks Out On the CBD Ban.
Professor Mike Barnes, neurologist, scientific and medical advisor to CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform, has issued the following statement.
“It is encouraging that the MRHA is recognising that CBD has medicinal value but it is concerning that many people benefitting from CBD now will suffer in the short term as good quality manufacturers have to stop production pending MRHA approval”
For some weeks, rumours and half stories have been swirling around about the MHRA taking action on CBD.
Initially a number of suppliers were warned about making medicinal claims, even testimonials from satisfied customers were ruled as unlawful. Anything which suggested that CBD was a medicine or provided therapeutic effects was ruled out under UK medicines legislation.
Responsible CBD suppliers have known this for some time and were scrupulous in ensuring no such claims were made, even including disclaimers explicitly stating that their products were not for medical use. But as CLEAR has reported many times before, the CBD market is full of cowboys, get-rich-quick scam artists that tell bare faced lies about their products as well as making outlandish claims for the medicinal benefits. The crackdown from the MHRA was inevitable when these fools put their short term gain ahead of developing a responsible and self-regulating market in which CBD could continue to be sold as a food supplement.
We have seen every sort of bad practice it is possible to imagine. Some suppliers have attacked all of their competitors, stating that they are the only ‘ethical’ supplier and everyone else is telling lies. MediPen put all its resources and efforts into marketing and PR without providing proper information to customers about what its product contained. It achieved great coverage in tabloids like the Metro and the Mirror and even managed to spin a wholly misleading story that the NHS was “trialling” its product (In fact it was at last using an NHS accredited laboratory to test its product contents, that is all). Another supplier called Sacred Kana was rebranding cheap and nasty Romanian hemp extract and selling a bottle for just over £50, claiming it contained 10,000 mg of CBD. Testing showed that it actually contained less than 200 mg. Wrapped up in a warm, cuddly hippy-style marketing campaign, they were trying to pass themselves off as the Rick Simpson of CBD when all they are is conmen.
Responsible suppliers did include CBD information on their websites and often linked to scientific studies and research. Clearly, even this has become too much for the MHRA and now the market is being closed down. You can thank the greedy idiots, the conmen and the barrow boy salesmen trying to pretend they were scientists.
Of course the truth is that CBD is medicine, so the MHRA isn’t wrong. Most CBD products are, in fact, low-THC, whole plant extracts, so they were, effectively, a legal form of cannabis. The therapeutic benefits they offered were not just from CBD but from the ‘entourage effect’, recognised by science as the synergy between all the different components of cannabis. Unfortunately, we even had some companies promoting the fact that their so-called ‘CBD oil’ actually contained significant proportions of THC and CBN, both ‘controlled drugs’ under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
The crackdown was inevitable but it may leave tens of thousands of people with real health problems as they are no longer able to obtain what they were legitimately using as a food supplement.
Of course, designating CBD as a medicine is inconsistent with the UK government’s position that cannabis has “no medicinal value” but it’s been common knowledge that this is untrue for many years. The only good news coming out of this debacle is that this could be the beginning of proper, honest regulation of cannabis as medicine. But if we’re looking at clinical trials before CBD can be marketed again, it could be many years away and that’s after someone or some company decides to invest the £250,000 or more that could cost.
CBD products will still be available offshore and you probably will be able to order online and have them delivered by post. The price is bound to go up and you will be committing a criminal offence by importing an unlicensed medicine but no doubt may will choose to take this risk.
CLEAR is working with the UK Cannabis Trade Association and our Advisory Board members Professor Mike Barnes and Crispin Blunt MP, to try and persuade the MHRA to enter a consultation process and allow CBD to remain available as a food supplement in the short term.
In the longer term, as we know far too well, the only solution is for a proper system of regulation for cannabis. including its use as medicine.