Rep. Diane Loeffler tells feds to get moving on marijuana research


About the only thing people can agree on when it comes to the medical marijuana debate is that the federal government isn't helping. Many of the disputes at the state level wouldn't be necessary if the Drug Enforcement Administration would reconsider its classification of the plant as a Schedule One narcotic and expedite, rather than hold up, serious research on its medicinal value.

Troubled by this, Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-Minneapolis) introduced a resolution Thursday that calls upon President Obama and Congress to force those federal agencies into action.

See also:

When will medical marijuana be legal in Minnesota?

Loeffler voted in favor of the House medical marijuana bill (and was a sponsor of the 2009 version that then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed) but says people shouldn't have to figure out the benefits of marijuana through their own trial-and-error process.

"We think medical marijuana needs to be available to the people," she says, "and the people really want good science backing this like all other medicines."

Rep. Diane Loeffler

Rep. Diane Loeffler

It's difficult, of course, to have a serious conversation when the people tasked with managing drug policy won't even acknowledge that there's a difference between pot and crack cocaine. Huffpo reports Friday that Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart has gone so far as to "pick a fight with Kentucky over the state's purchase of industrial hemp seeds to begin a newly legalized agricultural test."

Even more maddening is that the DEA has known about the therapeutic effects of marijuana for decades. In fact, a lawsuit filed by NORML forced the DEA, in 1986, to open public hearings related to the removal of marijuana from its list of Schedule One narcotics. Over two years, DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young heard testimony and reviewed thousands of pages of evidence.

Young concluded that the plant "is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man... To conclude otherwise, on this record, would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious."

His bosses attacked him, then chose to ignore the report.

Loeffler's resolution was introduced too late in the session to pass, but it quickly garnered 29 sponsors. She intends to send it along to Minnesota's congressional delegates. They should be aware, she tells us, of Minnesota's "strong bipartisan support" for serious research at the federal level.

The message is clear, she adds: "Get your game on, and move on this."

-- Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to [email protected]