Justice

Medical Marijuana Supporters File Petition To Get DEA Chief Fired

November 22nd 2015

By:
Alex Mierjeski

Patients, activists, and lawmakers have all joined the fight to pressure President Obama into firing the Drug Enforcement Agency's (DEA) acting chief over dismissive comments he made about medical marijuana recently.

On Friday, marijuana patients and advocates delivered a petition with over 100,000 signatures calling for DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg's ouster—more than double the number of signatures than a previous petition that helped lead to the former DEA chief's resignation, according to the Marijuana Majority, a policy advocacy group that organized the petition.

Petition calling for DEA Chief's ouster

Wait, why are people calling for the DEA chief to be fired?

In a Q&A with reporters earlier this month, Rosenberg stirred up anger when he brushed aside the medical properties of cannabis. "What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is medicinal—because it's not," he said. "We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don't call it medicine."

"That is a joke," he continued.

Related: Marijuana Could Literally Replace These 5 Prescription Drugs

The comments elicited immediate backlash from patients and advocates, and calls for Rosenberg to step down gained traction with a Change.org petition, the signatures of which were delivered to the DEA on Friday. Although many states have either medical or recreational frameworks for legal marijuana, the agency still considers it a "Schedule 1" drug, alongside heroin and ecstasy.

Change.org petition calling for DEA chief's ouster

"The call for change at DEA is picking up steam," Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority told ATTN:. "Calling medical marijuana a 'joke' runs counter to science showing that cannabis has medical value, and it is out of step with the vast majority of Americans who polls show overwhelmingly support enacting laws to protect patients from arrest."

Earlier in the week, a number of bipartisan lawmakers, including Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), also called for Rosenberg's ouster over the comments.

Related: Why The Last DEA Chief Resigned Amid Agency Controversy

"Mr. Rosenberg's comments are outrageous and misleading," said Bluemenauer in a statement. "The last 20 years has shown overwhelming testimonial evidence of the benefits of medical marijuana, leading 23 states, D.C., and Guam to change their laws."

"President Obama has taken action to respect state medical marijuana laws," the statement continued. "Mr. Rosenberg is out of step with the Administration and out of touch. It's time for new leadership."

Advocates deliver petition to DEA

Following Rosenberg's comment, the DEA clarified his position to the Washington Post, saying he "indicated that marijuana should be subject to the same levels of approval and scrutiny as any other substance intended for use as a medicine. DEA supports efforts to research potential medical uses of marijuana. To this end, DEA has never denied a registration request from anyone conducting marijuana research using FDA approved protocols."