420 with CNW – Group Claims Federal Government Broke the Law in Cannabis Scheduling Evaluation

The Competitive Enterprises Institute, a libertarian think tank, has claimed in a formal filing that the federal government erred in the way it handled the scientific evaluation of cannabis’ therapeutic value, and the government must therefore take steps to fix the errors it made.

Their request for correction was sent to the Department of Health and Human Services (U.S. HHS). HHS had written to the DEA in 2015 and the DEA relied on that letter from HHS in determining that marijuana be classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S.

According to CEI (Competitive Enterprises Institute), the letter sent by HHS lacked a very important element which is required by federal law. The federal Information Quality Act demands that such “highly influential scientific assessment” as the contents of the HHS letter to the DEA be subjected to a peer review evaluation before the information therein can be relied upon when making regulatory decisions.

No such peer review was conducted, and the CEI is demanding that HHS withdraws its letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration until the requisite peer review exercise has been done as stipulated in the law.

The DEA leaned heavily on the contents of the letter written by HHS to the effect that “marijuana has no recognized medical use in the U.S., has a high potential for abuse and doesn’t have an acceptable level of safety even when used under medical supervision.” Based on this information, the DEA rejected an application which had been made to have marijuana rescheduled in 2016.

In its letter to HHS, CEI points out that various medical associations and a huge fraction of the public in the U.S. have formed a largely different conclusion about marijuana. By law, HHS now has a maximum of 120 days within which to respond to the concerns raised by the Competitive Enterprises Institute.

Devin Watkins, an attorney for CEI, says that the federal government’s policy is likely to change if a reassessment of the matter is conducted. This is especially likely given that 33 states across the country have legalized marijuana for medical use.

The attorney added that the reassessment would be significant in ensuring that government agencies don’t brand uninformed opinions as scientific positions upon which public policies are made. Independent experts can shine a torch on the opinion of an agency and correct it if a mistake has been made.

Industry observers suspect that the entire cannabis industry, including players like Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) and Hemptown USA, are likely to follow keenly how HHS responds to the letter written by CEI.

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