Does the DEA Even Have the Authority to Re-Schedule Cannabis?
'We don’t make policy; we enforce the law.'
It all began with a leaked memo. And then the media began reporting on a possible Drug Enforcement Administration re-scheduling of cannabis. One Southern California-based publication went so far as to say it had a DEA attorney on record, dropping a deadline, while sipping on wine. But the truth is seemingly that the DEA doesn't know when, or if, it will reschedule cannabis, which is currently a Schedule I drug.
Speaking Tuesday with The Cannabist, DEA spokesman, Russell Baer said––in what we hope was at least a Hank Shrader-esque tone––that the drug administration still isn't totally posi when it will know whether pot is or isn't as bad as heroin or meth:
"I can’t give you a time frame as to when we may announce a decision. We’re closer than we were a month ago. It’s a very deliberate process.”
Essentially, while on the road to normalized weed in America, the pro-legalization movement asks from the back of the car: "Are we there yet?"
And possibly from the driver-seat, the DEA says: "We'll be there, when I say we're there. Now stop hitting your brother."
Citing a conversation between an unnamed "senior DEA executive" and an unnamed Denver-area attorney, Westword reports the drug administration's stance on the supposed shift in pot policy as inert: "The DEA is not going to reschedule marijuana this year.... They aren't issuing a public announcement about the change," says the unidentified DEA source via the unnamed Denver attorney.
Is a decision this momentous up to the DEA alone? From spokesman Baer in a June interview with tech blog aNewDomain:
"[The DEA] is 'an enforcement agency,' we don’t make policy, we enforce the law … the Controlled Substance[s] Act (of 1970) delineates what our concerns ought to be … and we follow it in every instance. . . Everyone thinks the DEA can do anything to anyone at any time. But it can’t. We have to act with the authority vested to us by congress, and it’s all described in the CSA."
For cannabis to take the hop, skip, and a jump remaining before being fully legal, and able-to-be prescribed by doctors without them fearing federal charges; and sold statewide at boutique dispensaries and Starbucks-like weed chains, the herb must get the green light from the Food and Drug Administration.
Come on, it's 2016. The Controlled Substances Act, which the DEA does take pretty seriously, was signed into law nearly 50 years ago. You may have ordered breakfast in less than two minutes and three taps on your stupid phone this morning. Things are supposed to happen faster now. Why are we still waiting on weed's future to arrive?