ASA took legal action this month to compel the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to immediately correct misinformation about cannabis. The petition filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) cites 25 violations by the DEA of the Information Quality Act, the federal law that requires administrative agencies to ensure the “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information” they distribute.
Among those 25 violations are inaccurate statements about cannabis on the DEA website, as well as ongoing claims that misrepresent the efficacy of medical cannabis and its risks. Some of the claims challenged by ASA’s petition have been refuted by the DEA itself in its recent “Denial of Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana,” issued August 12, 2016.
“For years, the DEA has published scientifically inaccurate information about the health effects of medical cannabis, directly influencing the action—and inaction—of Congress,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. “Our request is simple: The DEA must change its public information to better comport with its own expressed views, so that Congress has access to the appropriate tools to make informed decisions about public health. Alternatively, ASA requests that the DEA simply remove the inaccurate statements or the documents in their entirety.”
The petition, ASA’s second such challenge to government claims about cannabis, was prepared with unpaid assistance from the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
“We have taken this action to stop the DEA’s relentless campaign of misinformation about the health risks of medical cannabis in its tracks,” said Vickie Feeman, an attorney with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. “We are proud to represent Americans for Safe Access pro bono in this matter to protect the rights of patients throughout the country who could be harmed – and have already been harmed – by the DEA’s refusal to not only acknowledge the scientifically proven benefits of medical cannabis, but also its deliberate attempt to inflate and publicly misrepresent the facts about the potential harms of cannabis use.”
ASA argues that the DEA’s presentation of scientifically unfounded information diminishes the utility of accurate information and can jeopardize public health. The inaccurate information makes it difficult for public officials and medical providers to make informed decisions regarding the viability of medical cannabis treatment options.
The ASA IQA petition
Information on the IQA
Denial of Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana
DEA’s The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse
DEA’s Drugs of Abuse
DOJ Information Quality Guidelines