FDA: “Monkeys Like to Get High”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will not allow the American population to use marijuana for its therapeutic benefits because it says the herb is addictive to monkeys, according to a recent analysis by Vice News.

In a series of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, federal health officials tell exactly why the FDA did not provide the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with a recommendation to remove marijuana from its Schedule I classification.

The majority of the agency’s rationale, which is utterly ridiculous, suggests marijuana should remain labeled one of the most dangerous drugs in the world because pot “is popular,” and research shows that “monkeys like to get high.”

The report illustrates how the FDA leaned on a controversial study, paid for by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, to draw some of its conclusion. The study from 2003 concluded that since squirrel monkeys really seem to enjoy the stoned effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabis should be considered a real threat to the grand scheme of drug addiction in the United States. The FDA said these types of studies are “often useful in predicting rewarding effects in humans, and is indicative of abuse liability.”

It also appears the FDA is not at all keen on calling marijuana medicine because it can get the user stoned, hungry, and even make them more creative. Documents show the agency expressed some concern over the concept of weed causing “increased merriment and appetite,” as well as “heightened imagination.”

The overall popularity of marijuana, too, may have played a role in the FDA’s apprehensiveness to giving the DEA the green light to downgrade the cannabis plant under the Controlled Substances Act. In the report, the agency pointed out that almost half the American population has admitted to using marijuana at least once in their life. It made mention, as well, to there currently being nearly 8 million “daily or almost daily” users.

But FDA spokesperson Michael Felberbaum told Vice that although the agency recommended marijuana remain a Schedule I dangerous drug, it has “an interest in developing therapies from marijuana.”

“We continue to encourage work to assess whether there are appropriate and effective therapeutic uses of marijuana and its components and believe the drug-approval process using scientifically valid and well-controlled clinical trials is the most appropriate way for this to occur,” Felberbaum told the news source in a statement.

Interestingly, a report published earlier this month found the FDA really had no choice but to recommend marijuana remain a Schedule I drug. A letter written by the agency’s Acting Commissioner, Stephen Ostroff, suggests the agency may have delivered a different verdict had the rescheduling process been a little less restrictive. The letter said the Department of Justice should consider reevaluating “the legal and regulatory framework” it uses to determine where marijuana should continue to reside in the same ranking as heroin.

The latest documents suggest this desire for the DEA to modify its rescheduling procedure is due to a number of FDA findings, including “marijuana not being a gateway drug,” and the fact that it does not appear to cause health issues, like “cancer or mental illness.”

In August, the DEA denied two petitions to reschedule the cannabis plant, saying the decision was based on the FDA’s inability to prove the herb is “safe and effective” medicine.

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