It couldn't be a more unlikely pairing. Medical marijuana activist and head honcho at Americans for Safe Access Steph Sherer has teamed up with legendary Beltway lobbyist Jim Tozzi, author of the Data Quality Act, long reviled as a tool corporate America uses to blungeon public safety regulations.
They both have their own axes to grind. Sherer, a MMJ patient herself, wants to get her medicine into the hands of the suffering and Tozzi wants to save his Act from an untimely demise at the hands of Congress. Fortunately, for drug policy reform, their goals meet in the middle and the two are working together to challenge the scheduling of marijuana as a Class I drug along with heroin and LSD.
The ONDCP is predictably not buying it.
Although there have been "suggestions" that some elements of the herb might be developed into prescription drugs, potential benefits are outweighed by a "manifest risk" of widespread abuse, said David Murray, a White House Office of National Drug Control Policy analyst.Notice the change in rhetoric now that Andrea Barthwell is pitching for Sativex. All of sudden it's the "raw crude leaf" of natural marijuana that's not an acceptable medicine but pharmaceutically extracted derivatives are no longer villainous.
Even if new marijuana-based drugs were approved, Murray said, they would not likely have "the character of the raw crude leaf."
The consensus seems to be that the pair won't be able to crack the Bush administration's war on the plant itself and that it doesn't stand a chance to be reregulated. As one pundit puts it, "This has nothing to do with the medical debate. I think it's simply politics."
He's probably right, at least as long as Bush is in office, but I'm not willing to count this new dynamic duo out of the running yet. U.S. Health and Human Services officials have until Tuesday to respond to their request for reconsideration. I can hardly wait for their answer.