A nurse will take the time to educate his/her patients and encourage them to advocate for themselves, and if the patient is unable to be their own advocate, the nurse will advocate for them. I often make suggestions to better help my patients to develop treatment plans with their physicians.
Lately, and quite frequently, the subject of medical marijuana comes up as a treatment option.
I am bound by my license to provide true and factual education to my patients. I spend much time reading peer-reviewed scientific studies so that I can arm myself — and my patients — with truthful health information. Much of the medical marijuana data I review comes from retrospective studies, and trials being conducted in other countries, because here in the United States of America, it is nearly impossible for physicians to conduct clinical trials with marijuana.
Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, a category of drugs that our government defines as having no accepted medical use. According to our federal government, Schedule I drugs may not be prescribed by physicians.
Herein lies a conflict: Patients, in conjunction with physician recommendation, are using marijuana as medicine and are having positive health outcomes and benefits. We know that marijuana is not physically addictive medicine and science has proven that marijuana DOES have a place in the plan of care for many patients. (You can find a comprehensive list of drugs and their classifications here .)
On January 22, The DC Circuit DENIED a petition submitted by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), seeking to overturn the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) decision not to conduct an evidentiary hearing as to whether cannabis should be moved out of the Schedule I category of drugs. This ruling was discussed on Toke Signals.
I was outraged, as were many Americans following the ruling on this case. I had a hard time understanding why the DC Circuit would deny the ASA petition. There is no scientific or intellectual honesty in keeping marijuana on the Schedule I list of drugs.
By rescheduling marijuana, millions of Americans who are currently prevented from using medical marijuana legally would be able to benefit from its therapeutic value. My coworkers and I spent days talking about the ruling, and we all felt the same outrage.Shortly after hearing of the ruling, I read a blog post by Noah Potter, a New York City attorney who writes The New Amsterdam Psychedelic Law Blog, addressing this ruling in his article “The meaning of the DEA’s recent victory in ASA v DEA.”
After reading his article, it got me thinking about the court ruling and the court’s requirement that “something more than ‘peer-reviewed studies’ is required…” to reschedule marijuana. I am a nurse, and not a legal person, but I came to the conclusion that theoretically, LSD could be taken off the Schedule I list of drugs before cannabis.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a monopoly on the marijuana supply, and only makes its marijuana supply available to projects that it approves. The federal government does not retain a monopoly on the production of any other Schedule I drug. The federal government requires COMPETITION among producers of ALL Schedule I drugs EXCEPT Marijuana.Why would the federal government monopolize the supply of marijuana for research? Marijuana is the ONLY Schedule I drug that is singled out in this manner.
There are several FDA-approved clinical trials with marijuana sitting in limbo because researchers cannot get the NIDA to supply marijuana for research studies. A quick internet search led me to a list of current research being conducted on Schedule I psychedelic drugs. The FDA has been generous in granting approval for some psychedelic drug studies, including marijuana studies; however the NIDA is a roadblock to marijuana research by controlling the supply.
If a physician/researcher is willing to jump through all the hoops the FDA requires to conduct a clinical study on any Schedule I drug — drugs such as MDMA or LSD — it will only be a matter of time until researchers gather the required Phase I-III clinical trial data required by the DEA to reschedule.If that data proves to show a positive therapeutic outcome, if the researcher can prove the validity of that study drug as medicine, if the stars and planets are aligned perfectly we can, in theory, see a petition to the DEA to reschedule a psychedelic drug acted on more quickly than on marijuana.
We need to understand the magnitude of what the DEA has done to prevent the rescheduling of marijuana. To quote Noah Potter, “The DEA requires cannabis to pass a test that does not exist in federal law. The only way the citizens can move cannabis out of Schedule I is to get an evidentiary hearing – so the DEA designed a test that will never permit an evidentiary hearing.”
The DEA and the NIDA have a long history of obstructing marijuana research, even covering up significant marijuana clinical research data regarding tumors.Winston Churchill said, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”
I ask you these important questions:
What can be done to END the political fanaticism and scientific dishonesty that our government has for marijuana?
What can WE do to get cannabis rescheduled?
We need to challenge the people who control the DEA and hold them accountable for creating arbitrary rules. We need to shout it from the rooftops that this is all about Politics and has nothing to do with Science or Medicine.We need to educate as many people as we can to expose the truth. Press coverage is in order. Anyone can clearly see that marijuana is not a Schedule I drug according to the current federal regulations.
Marijuana does NOT have a high abuse potential. Marijuana is currently an ACCEPTED medical treatment for many conditions in the United States. Marijuana has safety and efficacy data. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have deemed marijuana an acceptable treatment with medical supervision.
This is an issue of compassion for our fellow Americans who are the victims of political fanaticism and are unable to advocate for themselves because they are so ill. We need to be their voice.
~ Lisa Roche-Schroeder, RN, CCRC, CRNI
Editor’s note: Lisa Roche-Schroeder is a Registered Professional Nurse in Upstate New York. Lisa has been a nurse for 25 years and is a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator and is a Certified Registered Nurse Infusionist.
Lisa has worked in Medical Research, Oncology, Rheumatology, and Nephrology. She volunteers her time in New York State with several organizations that are working on lobbying for medical marijuana in her state.
Roche-Schroeder has collected thousands of postcards across the country asking the President to keep his promise to restore science to its rightful place during his Inaugural speech. Lisa’s postcards are for Americans to ask the President to reconcile the law and take marijuana off the Schedule I list of drugs.