22 June 2016

Here’s the introduction to their interview

— A DEA official responded at length today to a widely-circulated report that the DEA plans to effectively legalize medical cannabis this August.

In an interview with aNewDomain today, DEA staff coordinator Russ Baer wouldn’t confirm the Santa Monica Observer report that the DEA will reschedule cannabis as a prescription-only Schedule II drug on Aug. 1, 2016. But he did comment at length about the agency’s thoughts around legalizing medical cannabis and how rescheduling cannabis from its current Schedule I status would have to work.

Baer, in his comments, went well beyond the prepared statement the agency gave to the The Houston Chronicle and other media covering the story earlier today. Check out his comments and our takeaway below.

“This is a complicated plant.” 

First off, the decision to reschedule cannabis isn’t a simple one because cannabis biochemistry is so complex, Baer said, and the variety of forms medical cannabis now takes are many.

“What is under-reported right now is how complex the marijuana plant is,” he added, pointing out that it has hundreds of chemical actors, or cannabinoids.”

THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and Cannabidiol (CBD) are two main ones, but even those are dramatically different. “Also, we are talking about synthetic THC, CBD (based treatments), oils, extracts edibles.” The challenge for researchers and government agencies is to “identify the parts of the plant that might have benefit, and separating out (the beneficial) parts from the ones that “aren’t beneficial or harmful.”

That the DEA is thinking about various cannabinoids as well as the many forms nascent treatments, like THC tablets for nausea in AIDs and cancer patients or CBD for easing seizures in epileptic children suggests the DEA may not be contemplating an all-or-nothing decision for cannabis, where it’s all prescription-only or nothing.

If the DEA is truly thinking hard about the different parts of the plant and the some 480 compounds it contains, as well as all the forms medical cannabis can take, that suggests a more comprehensive, structured approach is possible.

Read the full report at  http://anewdomain.net/2016/06/21/on-cannabis-rescheduling-questions-the-dea-responds-exclusive/