If I had awards to hand out to people and organizations that truly uphold humanistic ideals, MAPS would be the first organization I would give it to. This 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization was created by Rick Doblin in 1986. The goal of MAPS is to research drugs and find beneficial uses for them from emotional therapy to pain relief. MAPS is fighting an uphill battle against ignorant lawmakers to try to develop marijuana and psychedelics into prescription medication. I don’t mean “ignorant” as an offensive term, I’m using it to describe some politicians lack of accurate knowledge due to prejudices built around inaccurate drug war propaganda.
[quote_right]Much of the accurate information currently in circulation concerning drugs is due to the work of MAPS and its associates[/quote_right]
Since the creation of MAPS in 1986, the organization has spent around 20 million dollars on programs to develop comprehensive understandings of the effects of drugs. Much of the accurate information currently in circulation concerning drugs is due to the work of MAPS and its associates.
Big Pharma and other profit driven organizations won’t even consider wasting money on MDMA research because its patent has run out; this means it wont be financially profitable to corporations. MAPS on the other hand, being driven by humanist ideologies worries more about the well-being of the people on this planet than it does on its own profit margin.
The collection of academic superstars that make up the MAPS association have voluntarily placed their own reputations on the line to support the movement. These researchers have stood strong against the volley of attacks from politicians, DEA, NIDA, FDA, and everyone else still stuck on outdated drug information.
NIDA is the “National Institute of Drug Abuse” and is also the only organization authorized to produce medical marijuana for research; this power is granted and maintained by DEA policy. NIDA being fundamentally against drug use, has prevented organizations such as MAPS from obtaining marijuana for research even after full FDA approval to conduct the projects has been granted. I do appreciate the research NIDA has done although I’ve begun to question their integrity and motivation. The NIDA/DEA connection is by every definition a monopoly on marijuana research.
Even if the NIDA monopoly were to go away, the DEA has proven to be close-minded to any new research looking towards the benefits of drugs. MAPS and the DPA (Drug Policy Alliance) released a report in June 2014 to illustrate their frustration in trying to deal with the DEA. I have posted the link to the full report below, under that is the Executive Summary for their report.
[The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is charged with enforcing federal drug laws. Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, its powers include the authority to schedule drugs (alongside other federal agencies) and to license facilities for the production and use of scheduled drugs in federally-approved research. Those powers are circumscribed by a statute that requires the agency to make its determinations based on scientific data.
The case studies compiled in this report illustrate a decades-long pattern of behavior that demonstrates the agency’s inability to exercise its responsibilities in a fair and impartial manner or to act in accord with the scientific evidence – often as determined by its Administrative Law Judges.
The following case studies are included in this report:
• DEA Obstructs Marijuana Rescheduling: Part One, 1973-1994
• DEA Overrules Administrative Law Judge to Classify MDMA as Schedule I, 1985
• DEA Obstructs Marijuana Rescheduling: Part Two, 1995-2001
• DEA Overrules Administrative Law Judge to Protect Federal Monopoly on Marijuana for Research, 2001-2013
• DEA Obstructs Marijuana Rescheduling: Part Three, 2002-2013
These case studies reveal a number of DEA practices that work to maintain the existing, scientifically unsupported drug scheduling system and to obstruct research that might alter current drug schedules. The DEA’s most common tactics include:
Failing to act in a timely fashion. The DEA took 16 years to issue a final decision to the first marijuana rescheduling petition, five years for the second, and nine years for the third. In two of the three cases, it took multiple lawsuits to force the agency to act. Similarly, in the case of a researcher seeking an independent supply of marijuana for research purposes, it took the DEA 12 years – and another lawsuit – to deny the request.
Overruling DEA Administrative Law Judges. A DEA Administrative Law Judge is a government official charged with evaluating the evidence on rescheduling and other matters before the DEA and making recommendations based on that evidence to the DEA Administrator. In three of the five cases – the first marijuana rescheduling petition, the decision to classify MDMA as Schedule I, and the case of the researcher seeking an independent marijuana supply – agency administrators overruled their Administrative Law Judges’ recommendations. In the cases of the scheduling of marijuana and MDMA, the judges determined that they should be placed in Schedule II instead of Schedule I, where they would be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as prescription medicines, but still retain criminal sanctions for nonmedical uses.
Creating a regulatory Catch-22. The DEA has argued for decades that there is insufficient evidence to support rescheduling marijuana or the medical use of marijuana. At the same time, it has – along with the National Institute on Drug Abuse – acted in a manner intended to systematically impede scientific research. Through the use of such tactics, the DEA has consistently demonstrated that it is more interested in maintaining existing drug laws than in making important drug control decisions based on scientific evidence.
The final section of this report will examine the DEA’s speed in moving to ban MDMA, synthetic cannabinoids, and synthetic stimulants. In contrast to the DEA’s failure to act in a timely fashion when confronted with evidence for scheduling certain drugs less severely, the agency has shown repeatedly that it can move quickly when it wants to prohibit a substance.]
Just to be fair, I do understand the actions of DEA agents and I can’t be too upset with them. The DEA is at war with drugs, it will take a lot of indisputable evidence to force a 180 degree turn in their ethical outlook. The typical career for a DEA agent involves hunting down and capturing many violent drug abusers. I can easily see how DEA agents build inaccurate stereotypes of drug users when most they encounter are violent or difficult to deal with.
Senior DEA officials, similar to any other government organization, are privy to more information and have a better understanding of how the bureaucratic process works than the lowly field agent. Senior officials once indoctrinated into bureaucracy now have a separate set of motivating factors which help them formulate their actions (political, personal, and financial gain).
I have no direct evidence to support this assumption but the DEA/NIDA relationship resembles framework conducive to bribes and blackmail. I wouldn’t be surprised if later down the road it was revealed that officials from NIDA and the DEA have received “off-the-books benefits” to maintain policies advantageous for big Pharma.
In the clip above, Paul Armentano‘s comparison of oranges to marijuana plants and vitamin C to THC derivative based pharmaceuticals was awesome. That analogy perfectly describes how absurd this situation really is.
Whether you’re pro drugs or not, the big take-away from this article is that dishonest politics is what is driving the prohibition of drugs, not safety concerns. Even if you don’t desire to legalize drugs, you should at least be interested in keeping our government honest. Even without drugs in the equation, the government securing business monopolies and reworking laws to help big Pharma is dangerous for our nations future.
I will likely write more on this topic in the future but for the time being, please support organizations such as MAPS, DPA and NORML because the work they do is very important. I also recommend that everyone do their own research into this topic, I only skimmed the top with this article.