After months of public pressure and media attention, the DEA has finally removed some inaccurate information from its website.
The change comes after Americans for Safe Access filed a legal request with the Department of Justice in December, demanding that the DEA update and remove factually inaccurate information about cannabis from their website and materials.
Americans for Safe Access (ASA) argued that the more than 25 false statements on the DEA’s website about marijuana constituted a violation of the Information Quality Act (IQA), which requires that administrative agencies not provide false information to the public and that they respond to requests for correction of information within 60 days.
Thankfully, the petition was filed before “alternative facts” became an accepted justification for blatant lies, but something tells me we’re still not in the clear.
One publication, “Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana,” contained 23 of the 25 factual inaccuracies in violation of the IQA, which included claims that cannabis was a gateway drug, caused irreversible cognitive decline in adults and contributed to psychosis and lung cancer.
“The DEA’s removal of these popular myths about cannabis from their website could mean the end of the Washington gridlock” said Steph Sherer, executive director of ASA in a press release.
“This is a victory for medical cannabis patients across the nation, who rely on cannabis to treat serious illnesses,” Sherer said. “The federal government now admits that cannabis is not a gateway drug, and doesn’t cause long-term brain damage, or psychosis. While the fight to end stigma around cannabis is far from over, this is a big first step.”
But the fight is not over, says the ASA.
As of February 13, the government is one week beyond the required deadline to respond to the ASA’s legal petition that states the DEA is still spreading false information about marijuana.
“We are pleased that in the face of our request the DEA withdrew some of the damaging misinformation from its website” said Vickie Feeman, of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
“However, the DEA continues to disseminate many damaging facts about the health risks of medical cannabis, and patients across the country face ongoing harm as a result of these alternative facts,” added Feeman. “We are hopeful the DEA will also remove the remaining statements rather than continue to mislead the public in the face of the scientifically proven benefits of medical cannabis.”
ASA argues that correcting false information about marijuana is especially critical now with the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch supporter of the DEA and outspoken critic of weed.
Sessions often cites DEA publications and opinions about marijuana to justify his opposition to policy reform.
Two days before the 2017 inauguration, the ASA submitted a Change.org petition with over 100,000 signatures requesting the DEA stick to the truth about medical marijuana.