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DEA Drops Inaccurate Cannabis Claims From Website

February 13, 2017
Handcuffs on laptop keyboard, computer crime concept.
In a remarkable about-face, the US Drug Enforcement Administration on Monday removed inaccurate information about the purported dangers of cannabis from the agency’s website.

The change came after the nonprofit advocacy group Americans for Safe Access filed a legal petition calling for the DEA to remove the incorrect claims. Filed on Dec. 5, the petition argues that the misleading statements—among which that cannabis can cause psychosis, lung cancer, and permanent cognitive damage—violate the federal Information Quality Act, designed to ensure integrity of information published by federal agencies.

Steph Sherer, ASA’s executive director, cheered the agency’s removal of the claims.

“The DEA’s removal of these popular myths about cannabis from their website could mean the end of the Washington gridlock” she said in a statement. “The federal government now admits that cannabis is not a gateway drug, and doesn’t cause long-term brain damage, or psychosis.”


U.S. Attorney General Says Cannabis Is Not a Gateway Drug

An online document titled “The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse,” contained the misleading statements, which were contradicted in an August 2016 document published by the DEA itself. This past September, then-US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said cannabis is not, in fact, a gateway drug. “We usually … are talking about  individuals that started out with a prescription drug problem,” she said.

While the DEA appears to have pulled the information from its site, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) says it has yet to receive an official response from the agency. The DEA is now a week behind deadline to formally respond to the legal request, the nonprofit says. ASA’s lawyers say they’ve sent another letter that requests both an agency reply and the removal of several other allegedly misleading statements.


Here’s Why Cannabis Legalization Doesn’t Lead to Higher Teen Use Rates

“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.” said Vickie Feeman, a partner at the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

As the ASA notes in its letter, now is a particularly crucial time to ensure that all information being disseminated from the government be factually accurate. President Trump’s newly appointed attorney general, former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, has made it clear in past statements that he opposes cannabis use, and some are concerned the White House’s looseness with the truth could creep into federal drug policy and put patients at risk.

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Lisa Rough

Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.

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  • jim heffner

    Winning one battle in the war on ‘alternate facts’ is a start. Getting a win against ‘alternate ethics’ is next.

    • Billy Wolf

      Stop trying to win, and just prove they can get rich from it. Then it will be as legal as sugar..MONEY for justice, is the American way..

      • disqus_AIK0V2HTNb

        Sad but true. The thing about Marijuana that I don’t understand is wouldn’t it be safer to know who and where the Marijuana comes from rather then buying it off the streets? My family took in a young man (23) that was beaten and had severe health problems. The Drs put him on Marinol pills and it helped him greatly, however, the cost was $ 500 a month. My family kept him on the Marinol for 5 months but just couldn’t afford it anymore. My parents had to move to a State where Medical Marijuana was available. He didn’t smoke it he actually vaped with it and thanks to the good Lord first and the help of the Marijuana he lived 6 more years then expected. It helped with his nausea 99% and also depression. I admire my parents so much for doing what they had to do to try and give him a better life. It was very difficult for them to move but when it came down to trying there best to help ( Michael) they did what they thought was the best. I really wish that the Government would stay out of peoples lives when it comes down to as what someone chooses to use for there health.

    • Philip Cammarano

      You hit that right on the head fellow enthusiast

  • John Paul

    Great article. It’s nice they removed a few of the lies but we have a long way to go. Cannabis needs to be available to everyone who wants it at an affordable price, Canadians can get Bud Today delivered to their door. People world wide should be able to have access to cannabis too how about we vote on ending the drug war? or a vote on opiates? gmo’s? this fight has a long way to go but this is one small step forward hopefully one day soon their is no more DEA and that money can be spent on education and rehab for people addicted to drugs. Cannabis belongs in the grocery store next to the other produce its time people realize that its safer than most of our groceries. This century we have 0 overdose deaths from cannabis world wide 🙂

    • Clay Pierce

      In all of human history no man woman or child has died directly from Cannabis!
      Demand the removal from schedule 1! END ALL CANNABIS PROHIBITION NOW!

      • disqus_AIK0V2HTNb

        i agree 100% with your comment. No one has the right to schedule a plant that is grown from nature. End The Cannabis Prohibition !!!!

  • Joe

    Waoh! That was Hart ball. Hope this clear the way. 90% of people oppose to legalization have hear all this misleading propaganda and accepti it like trueful word of God. By the way there is no one word again cannabis in any religious book with the direct word of God. So -what is the religious right or left about condemning and support all this myth and false propaganda by the religion. Those people are the prohibitionists, no understanding what so ever. There actions are supporting the marijuana black market. There is no public access , no problem your local organize crime syndicate will have marijuana for you regal less of prohibition. Them sale to anyone with cash. How this prevent early interaction with cannabis? Denying the true do not eradicate cannabis, by the way no point on trying eradication the DEA try that. Did not work. Doing all this again is the action of a insane person. Who senators will ask to continue with the fails policies. The only solution to this is legalization nationwide. One set of rules base on the 1St legal state. Colorado still functioning despite the prohibitionists claims that marijuana will do this and that the other thing and that to… No one statement corroborated actually the opposite all good news. What president will destroy a industry that will remain either legal or illegal. Marijuana is here to stay legal or illegal.

  • Stopthemadness

    Didn’t the DEA back in Nixon era recommend cannabis be treated like alcohol and it was Nixon that went the complete other way and had it scheduled and the war begun? Or something like that. Let’s get that report front page!

    • homebrewer

      Nixon wanted Cannabis scheduled as 1, because his goal was to give authorities a tool to attack Vietnam protesters and minorities and lock them up with a felony conviction. Even though Cannabis users span across all racial and economic classes of people, police and courts can use selective policing and sentencing practices to remove targeted individuals from society. Sessions stance is the same, that is why he wants to keep Cannabis illegal. “Three strikes your out” had the same purpose, as well as the private prison system. The push was to decriminalize Cannabis in states because of the costs of incarceration, PP systems were supposed to be cheaper. But since they have their own internal courts, “minimum occupancy” contracts with States, “Demerit” system and they monitor when a prisoner is close to release, the PP system can extend their time. The PP system is more expensive but the States are now hooked because they can’t afford to build their own prisons.

      • Philip Cammarano

        Ah someone else who actually see’s what is happening around us, good to see some more people becoming aware!

  • Waah

    I got 1 for us. Mold. Mold on weed is a big issue. Recently in Cal. I belive, mold in medicinal was pointed to as having killed a cancer patient and sickened 1 more.So wash your weed? Oh yeah. 420 has info on it. So weed does have potential for harm, if it is not clean. Treat it like real medicine.

  • Mr Green

    This has been a long time coming. But, what could they do? They’ve been lying to us since 1937 they know it, we know it! Going after the opioid problem albeit 10 years late is where they should place there focus. Maybe even treat people instead of locking them up. How can politicians deny medicine to it’s constituents to children? For a buck I guess. I would also like to see it DE-SCHEDULED not rescheduled. This is a cheap viable medicine that can help millions of people world wide. So, why do we listen to those lying POS in DC?

  • rwscid

    Next … eliminate the entire DEA website.

    Then … eliminate the DEA.

    • disqus_AIK0V2HTNb

      Now that sounds great!!!!

    • jim heffner

      De-funding will do the job.

    • XO Dosia

      no… first, bring corruption charges against the DEA… then eliminate the DEA.

  • Colorado Truth

    OMG! Reading all of the comments on here is feels like trying to teach Algebra to Kindergardeners! I moved out of Colorado after 3 years of crazy! A few FACTS about weed:

    1.) Weed is a huge gateway drug! Every teenager and weed smoker that I met in Colorado eventually moved on to harder drugs. Which in turn led to them committing crimes, robbery, burglary, car accidents, drunk driving, dealing drugs, etc. for the plain fact that weed isn’t free. Neither are any of those harder drugs! But if you can’t pass a drug test; you can’t get a job. So you end up committing crimes to pay for your drug habit. It blows my mind that we think as a society that we can treat addiction with addiction! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised b/c we also think as a society that we can solve racism with racism….but that’s another topic.

    2.) Legalization only improved the black market; it did NOT eliminate it! Yes legalization lowered the price of weed, but the black market is alive and well in Colorado. Don’t believe me? All you have to do is search Craigslist in Colorado and you will find whatever weed you want and they will deliver your “medicine” to your door like a pizza! Legalization does lower the price of weed and ALL other drugs too. Legalization of weed is indirectly related to the ongoing heroin and opiate problem.

    3.) We need more scientific study on whether weed use leads to psychosis, lung cancer, and long term cognitive functioning issues. We know weed causes serious short term (a few hours) of cognitive impairment. So where does the logic come from that there is no long term effects? And any doctor will tell you that prescription drugs will permanently modify and change your body. And by that, I mean that your body will never be exactly the same again. We know that smoking tobacco, cooking meat on a flame, and even just burning literally anything and inhaling the smoke is carcinogenic. So why is smoking weed considered safe and healthy? Makes no sense!

    4.) Weed might not be “directly” linked to an overdose death, but it is directly and indirectly linked to many deaths in states where it is legalized. From car wrecks to jumping off of balconys and running out in front of traffic, weed does kill! Of course, none of us are getting out of this life alive. But whether weed kills you slowly over time from destroying your relationships, career, and overall health, or you just get too high and do something stupid….drug use and weed will have a negative effect on your life!

    Side notes: I personally witnessed crime increasing in Colorado while I lived there. The new jail that they built 5 years ago that was only half full is now over flowing with druggies b/c of the crimes they commit to pay for their habit. My wife was rear ended twice (6 months apart) by high drivers. Of course they were uninsured, which means we had to foot the bill. And yes, they got off with nothing b/c there isn’t a reliable road test to prove they are high. (That is, if you don’t count their blood shot eyes, slurred speech, and king sized bag of doritos in their hand!) Our car was gone through almost weekly by druggies. Our house was broken into. (In a nice neighborhood of 250k homes!) And a constant flow of homeless people and transients from all over the country daily poured into the state. Straining all of the social services, shelters, and public services.

    I hate the “war on drugs” as much as everybody else. But legalization is NOT the answer to America’s drug problem either!

    • jim heffner

      1. How many studies debunking ‘The Gateway Theory’ have you managed to ignore?
      2. Numbers?
      3. Well over 20,000 research papers and published studies on Cannabis and its use. The most researched plant in the world.

      4. Pure Bovine fecal matter. You’ve managed to state exactly the opposite conclusions and denied peer reviewed studies with the statements you’ve made. Numbers please.
      Instead of biased anecdotal ‘evidence’ how about some numbers? The problems you perceive when thoroughly investigated will show that they are a result of prohibition and it’s enforcement and pre-existing and independent from Cannabis use social problems. How about just repealing all the laws based on lies and propaganda about Cannabis instead? That would give us full re-legalization and remove the problems created by prohibition and over regulation.
      I don’t expect to change your mind but I will ask you to re-examine your statements and honestly evaluate your statements.

      As a Veteran and responsible tax paying citizen I want the rights I fought for. I want to grow my own without some Nanny telling me I can’t because I might annoy his or her delicate sensibilities or some imagined and unproven ‘possible’ catastrophic results.. A generation from now the present prohibitions will be viewed like the still on the books law that requires a person to proceed on foot ahead of a motor driven vehicle while waving a lantern – in order to prevent a ‘possible’ disaster.

      If you “hate ‘the war on drugs’ as much as everyone else”, why are you cheering on the prohibitionists? We tried prohibition of alcohol and what happened?

      • disqus_AIK0V2HTNb

        Thank you Mr. Heffner for your service. In my opinion Your Exactly Right.

    • XO Dosia

      i can invest the time to knock this whole entire post down… but in the end… why?

      • Colorado Truth

        lol….why “knock it down” when it would force you to think and that would take away from the whole experience of being high! 🙂

        • XO Dosia

          i don’t need to think to give you answers i already have… and i don’t get off on being right on the internet, sir

          • Colorado Truth

            that’s the problem on here….all anybody wants to do is to “justify” their use of illegal drugs….nobody wants to actually discuss the issues and how they are going to effect our children and future generations. I respect your and others opinions that differ from my own. I just want to provide real knowledge to what life is like in a state that has legalized weed. It isn’t the utopia that some would have you to believe!

          • Michael Buder

            This is a wall you just simply walk around. a bunch of hear say, no factual data. AKA TROLLIN But he numbered it, so it must be truth…..smh

    • disqus_AIK0V2HTNb

      Well the DEA happens to disagree now that Marijuana is a gateway drug, as many others already knew. So your opinion is just that, your opinion. I have met many people that have used Marijuana to get them off hard drugs. And your statement about Marijuana killing people is ridiculous. Look at all the wrecks that have happened from people texting while driving or even putting on make up while driving. God forbid but I would much rather a child get a hold of Marijuana rather then a gun, taking medications, or even taking over the counter medications just lying around. I lived in California and wish I still did. Marijuana is a plant that can be very helpful and isn’t man made like drugs are that are sold by pharmaceutical companies to make a fortune. Please check your facts before you write them down.

      • farmerlion

        Colorado Truth, How much disinformation and bullshit do you think people believe? You obviously make up your facts as you go along. I have had about 120 employees under my supervision. Many times people that drank to much missed work because of intoxication arrests. (DUI, Domestic Violence) Not one time has a marijuana user missed a days work because he was hung over or in jail. I don’t hide behind a computer name spewing lies and BS in general. If you disagree with something state your opinion, but don’t make shit up . Defending a position that has been proven false. Eric Dailey MedDakotabis

      • Colorado Truth

        You are right that it is my opinion from dealing with it first hand, on the ground, running a business, and living in a state that has legalized weed. So you are a witness for junkies trading the “high” of their hard drugs for the “high” of weed. Wouldn’t that make weed a reverse gateway drug then? And yes, there are a million things that can kill people and hurt kids. No news there. But in Colorado, the first question you ask somebody is “where are they from” and if they say California….you just turn and run the other way! California is the land of “fruits and nuts” as I learned first hand while living in Colorado and vacationing in Cali! And please stop it with the “man made” drug argument. It is so ignorant that I’m not even going to go there.

        • disqus_AIK0V2HTNb

          You really don’t have to be so hateful. You have your opinion. However, you do seem to act like since you lived in Colorado makes you have more knowledge then anyone else. The junkie as you put it was a great person that did get hooked on prescription medication from Drs. I’m not trying to be disrespectful bc that’s just not me. I am speaking my opinion as you are yours.

          • Colorado Truth

            No hate, only my opinion mixed with life experience. And yes, having lived in Colorado does give me better insight into this whole topic than randoms stoners from all over the country who are only really excited about paying less for their weed. Living in Colorado showed me that this whole fantasy utopia does NOT exist as so many would love to believe. That is all I am trying to point out. I wish you and your friend the best.

  • Dale Wood

    You want to BUILD a WALL to shut ILLEGAL MEXICANS & their DRUGS OUT?? Legalize Marijuana and Tax it at an 0.08% rate & LET THE SMOKERS OF AMERICA PUT THE MONEY UP IN 1 YEAR!!!