The DEA Is Getting Dragged ‘Kicking and Screaming’ Into the New World of Marijuana

A man waves a Colorado flag with a marijuana leaf on it at Denver's annual 4/20 marijuana rally in front of the state capitol building in downtown Denver, April 20, 2015. (photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters)
A man waves a Colorado flag with a marijuana leaf on it at Denver’s annual 4/20 marijuana rally in front of the state capitol building in downtown Denver, April 20, 2015. (photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters)


Christopher Woody | International Business Times | Reader Supported News | May 18, 2016

n April, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said it would review marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug, considered the “most dangerous class” of substances.

While the DEA’s announcement is a positive sign, many drug policy experts think it’s unlikely the agency will actually decide to change marijuana’s classification, despite a dramatic shift in public sentiment about the drug.

Marijuana’s position in the top tier of the scheduling system — which organizes drugs by their “acceptable medical use and … abuse or dependency potential” — has endured since the 1970s.

“DEA will carry out its assessment of the FDA recommendation in accordance with the [Controlled Substances Act] … and hopes to release its determination in the first half of 2016,” the DEA said in a letter to a group of Democratic senators, first obtained by the Huffington Post.

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State Department: International Treaties Do Not Demand Monopoly On Marijuana Production

NORML | May 12, 2016

Washington, DC: United States treaty obligations do not mandate the federal government to limit marijuana production to a single licensed facility, according to written statements provided by the State Department to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

The Department’s statements run counter to opinions expressed by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which has long alleged that there can only be one federally licensed cultivator of marijuana for research purposes – the University of Mississippi, as overseen by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2011, the DEA rejected an order from its own administrative law judge calling on the agency to issue additional cultivation licenses. The agency claimed that allowing such activity would be “inconsistent with United States obligations under the Single Convention (treaty).”

But in response to an inquiry from Sen. Gillibrand, representatives from the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement have now denied the DEA’s claim, stating, “If a party to the Single Convention issued multiple licenses for the cultivation of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, that fact alone would not be a sufficient basis to conclude that the party was acting in contravention of the Convention.”

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DEA Using License Plate Readers to Take Photos of US Drivers, Documents Reveal

A mounted surveillance camera in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan. (photo: Tom Perkins/Ann Arbor News)
A mounted surveillance camera in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan. (photo: Tom Perkins/Ann Arbor News)

Rory Carroll | The Guardian | Reader Supported News | February 6, 2015

he Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is using license-plate reader technology to photograph motorists and passengers in the US as part of an official exercise to build a database on people’s lives.

According to DEA documents published on Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the agency is capturing images of occupants in the front and rear seats of vehicles in a programme that monitors Americans’ travel patterns on a wider scale than previously thought.

The disclosure follows the ACLU’s revelation last week about the potential scale of a DEA database containing the data of millions of drivers, which kindled renewed concern about government surveillance.

The latest published internal DEA communications, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show that automated license plate scanners, known as ALPRs, record images of human beings as well as license plates.

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American Academy of Pediatrics Calls For Rescheduling Cannabis

NORML | January 29, 2015

Washington, DC: An updated policy statement issued this week by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) calls for federally rescheduling cannabis in order to better facilitate clinical trial research and to promote its pharmaceutical development.

The new position statement resolves: “The AAP strongly supports research and development of pharmaceutical cannabinoids and supports a review of policies promoting research on the medical use of these compounds. The AAP recommends changing marijuana from a Drug Enforcement Administration Schedule I (controlled substance) to a Schedule II drug to facilitate this (clinical) research.”

By definition, Schedule I controlled substances are defined as possessing no “accepted medical use.” Clinical protocols involving cannabis are strictly controlled and require authorization from various federal agencies, including DEA, FDA, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – the latter of which is designated under federal law as the sole provider of cannabis and/or organic cannabinoids for research purposes.

“A Schedule I listing means there’s no medical use or helpful indications, but we know that’s not true because there has been limited evidence showing [marijuana] may be helpful for certain conditions in adults,” said Dr. Seth Ammerman, who co-authored the amended policy statement.

The updated AAP resolution also acknowledges that certain types of cannabinoid-therapy may provide benefits to adolescents, particularly those with treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy and chronic seizures. It states, “The AAP recognizes that marijuana may currently be an option for cannabinoid administration for children with life-limiting or severely debilitating conditions and for whom current therapies are inadequate.”

Last year the Epilepsy Foundation of America issued a similar resolution, citing preclinical data and observational reports of the potential therapeutic benefit of the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) in pediatric patients and calling for “an end to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) restrictions that limit clinical trials and research into medical marijuana for epilepsy.”

Separate language in the AAP’s position statement also addresses the social use of the plant, affirming, “AAP strongly supports the decriminalization of marijuana use for both minors and young adults and encourages pediatricians to advocate for laws that prevent harsh criminal penalties for possession or use of marijuana.” By contrast, the statement acknowledges the group’s continued opposition to the legalization of marijuana, a policy change that it alleges poses “potential harm to children.”

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the Academy’s policy statement is available online at:

DEA: Marijuana Plant Seizures Decline To Lowest Levels In Nearly A Decade

NORML | September 26, 2013

Washington,  DC: Seizures of indoor and outdoor cannabis crops by  the US Drug Enforcement Administration have declined dramatically from 2011 to  2012 and are now at their lowest reported levels in nearly a decade, according  to statistics released online by the federal anti-drug agency.

According to  the DEA’s 2012 Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report,  the total number of cannabis plants eradicated nationwide fell 42 percent  between 2011 and 2012. This continues a  trend, as DEA crop seizures previously fell 35 percent nationwide from 2010 to  2011.

In 2010, the  DEA eliminated some 10.3 million cultivated pot plants. (This figure  excludes the tens of millions of feral hemp plants which are   typically seized and destroyed by DEA agents annually, but are no longer  categorized in their reporting.) By  2011, this total had dipped to 6.7 million. For 2012, the most recent year for which DEA  data is available, the total fell to 3.9 million – the lowest annual tally in  nearly a decade.

The declining  national figures are largely a result of reduced plant seizures in California. Coinciding largely with the downsizing of, and  then ultimately the disbanding of, the state’s nearly 30-year-old Campaign  Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) program, DEA-assisted marijuana seizures in  California have fallen 73 percent since 2010 – from a near-record 7.4 million  cultivated pot plants eradicated in 2010 to approximately 2 million in 2012. DEA-assisted cannabis eradication efforts have  remained largely unchanged in other states during this same period.

For more information, please contact Allen  St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano,  NORML Deputy Director, at: The DEA’s 2012 Domestic  Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Statistical Report is available online here:

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25 Years Ago: DEA’s Own Administrative Law Judge Ruled Cannabis Should Be Reclassified Under Federal Law

English: Cannabis plant from http://www.usdoj....

English: Cannabis plant from (no longer there, but available via Internet Archive) Image is credited to DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), a United States Department of Justice agency. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NORML | September 5, 2013

Washington, DC:  Friday, September 6, 2013 marks the 25-year  anniversary of an administrative ruling which determined that cannabis  possesses accepted medical utility and ought to be reclassified accordingly  under federal law.

The ruling, issued in 1988 by US Drug  Enforcement Administration (DEA) Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis Young “In the Matter of Marijuana  Rescheduling,” determined: “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of  the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana  can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.”

Young continued: “It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and  capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the  benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.”

Judge Young concluded: “The  administrative law judge recommends that the Administrator conclude that the  marijuana plant considered as a whole has a currently accepted medical use in  treatment in the United States, that there is no lack of accepted safety for  use of it under medical supervision and that it may lawfully be transferred  from Schedule I to Schedule II [of the federal Controlled Substances Act].”

Judge Young’s ruling was in response  to an administrative petition filed in 1972 by NORML which sought to reschedule  cannabis under federal law. Federal authorities  initially refused to accept the petition until mandated to do so by the US  Court of Appeals in 1974, and then refused to properly process it until again  ordered by the Court in 1982. In 1986, 14-years after NORML filed its initial  petition, the DEA finally held public hearings on the issue before  Judge Young,  who rendered his decision two years later.

However, then-DEA Administrator John Lawn ultimately rejected  Young’s determination, and in 1994, the Court of Appeals allowed Lawn’s  reversal to stand – maintaining marijuana’s present classification as a Schedule  I prohibited substance with “no accepted medical use,” and a “lack of accepted  safety … under medical supervision.”

In July  2011, the DEA rejected a separate marijuana rescheduling petition, initially filed  in 2002. This past January, a three-judge panel for the  US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the DEA’s decision,  ruling that insufficient clinical studies exist to warrant a judicial review of  cannabis’ federally prohibited status.

For more information,  please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Keith Stroup,  NORML Legal Counsel, at (202) 483-5500.

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The NSA-DEA Police State Tango

English: The Seal of the United States Federal...

English: The Seal of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. For more information, see here. Español: El escudo del Buró Federal de Investigaciones (FBI). Para obtener más información, véase aquí (Inglés). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Andrew O’Hehir | Salon | Reader Supported News | August 11, 2013

o the paranoid hippie pot dealer you knew in college was right all along: The feds really were after him. In the latest post-Snowden bombshell about the extent and consequences of government spying, we learned from Reuters reporters this week that a secret branch of the DEA called the Special Operations Division – so secret that nearly everything about it is classified, including the size of its budget and the location of its office – has been using the immense pools of data collected by the NSA, CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies to go after American citizens for ordinary drug crimes. Law enforcement agencies, meanwhile, have been coached to conceal the existence of the program and the source of the information by creating what’s called a “parallel construction,” a fake or misleading trail of evidence. So no one in the court system – not the defendant or the defense attorney, not even the prosecutor or the judge – can ever trace the case back to its true origins.

On one hand, we all knew more revelations were coming, and the idea that the government would go after drug suspects with the same dubious extrajudicial methods used to pursue terrorism suspects is a classic and not terribly surprising example of mission creep. Both groups have been held up as bogeymen for years, in order to scare the public into accepting ever nastier and more repressive laws. This gives government officials another chance to talk to us in their stern grown-up voices about how this isn’t civics class, and sometimes they have to bend the rules to catch Really Bad People.

On the other hand, this is a genuinely sinister turn of events with a whiff of science-fiction nightmare, one that has sounded loud alarm bells for many people in the mainstream legal world. Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law professor who spent 18 years as a federal judge and cannot be accused of being a radical, told Reuters she finds the DEA story more troubling than anything in Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks. It’s the first clear evidence that the “special rules” and disregard for constitutional law that have characterized the hunt for so-called terrorists have crept into the domestic criminal justice system on a significant scale. “It sounds like they are phonying up investigations,” she said. Maybe this is how a police state comes to America: Not with a bang, but with a parallel construction.

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Top Ten Things That Don’t Make Sense About Obama’s Security State

Cray X-MP/24 (serial no. 115) used by NSA

Cray X-MP/24 (serial no. 115) used by NSA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Juan Cole | Informed Comment | Reader Supported News | August 8, 2013

In a Reuters Exclusive, John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke reveal that the National Security Agency shares information it gleans from warrantless surveillance of Americans with the Special Operation Division of the Drug Enforcement Agency, which then uses the metadata to develop cases against US citizens. The DEA then routinely lies to the judge and defense attorneys during discovery about how its agents initially came by their suspicions of wrongdoing. But you could imagine a situation where a young woman repeatedly called a boyfriend who was secretly known to the DEA to be a drug dealer, but whose crimes were unknown to her. And you could imagine law enforcement entrapping her into making a small drug buy. And then you could imagine their secretly basing their case against her in part on her phone calls to a known dealer. But this latter information would be denied to her defense attorney and the judge, making it harder to discern the entrapment.

All these stories about the government’s quest for Total Information Awareness about the phone calls, email, internet searches, etc. of 312 million ordinary Americans raise some questions in my mind. There are so many things about these stories that don’t make sense.

  1. The government says that they need everyone’s phone records because they want to see who calls known overseas terrorists from the US. But if the NSA had a telephone number of a terrorist abroad and wanted to see if it was called from the US, why couldn’t it just ask the telephone company for the record of everyone who called it? It isn’t true that it would take too much time. It would be instant. Obviously, the government wants the telephone records of millions of Americans for some other reason.

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DEA Using NSA Surveillance to Crack Down on Drug Crimes?

Operation Mallorca, US Drug Enforcement Admini...

Operation Mallorca, US Drug Enforcement Administration, 2005 “News from DEA, News Releases, 06/14/05”. . . Retrieved 2011-03-27 . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rod Bastanmehr | AlterNet | August 5, 2013


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Reuters reports that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is sending surveillance information obtained by government agencies, including the NSA, to law enforcement around the country. A Special Operations Division “is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.”

The documents show that law enforcement agents were also directed to hide the origins of the information. F ederal agents were trained to “recreate” the investigative trail in an effort to essentially cover up where the information originated, leading many to view the raids as a direct violation of the Constitutional right to a fair trial.

“I have never heard of anything like this at all,” Harvard Law School professor Nancy Gertner  told Reuters. “It is one thing to create special rules for national security…ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations.”

Gertner, who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011, believes the DEA program dismantles the notion of due process. In some of the leaked documents, the DEA was said to have pretended their investigations began with a routine traffic stop as opposed to a surveillance-based tip.

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