Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
FDA approves first marijuana-derived drug and it may spark DEA rescheduling (arstechnica.com)
150 points by mikece on June 26, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 111 comments



The current drug regulation regime strikes me as backwards--it seems that the more appropriate assumption should be to not regulate a substance, until it can be shown to be harmful (I'm not talking about label accuracy; I see that as more of a truth-in-labeling issue).

To me, cannabis illustrates how absurd the current drug regulation paradigm is. The idea that it would be classified as a Schedule I substance is ridiculous. But to get the FDA to change anything, you have to have people engaging in illegal behavior, to create a demand for specific legislative action about a specific substance, to drive a market for a derivative chemical, to petition to the FDA, to begrudgingly change the scheduling.

I've come to the conclusion that drug scheduling and the war on drugs is an economic failure, leads to police abuse and socioeconomic injustices, and acts to reinforce monopolies in the health care market, by ceding power over access to specific providers.


The Controlled Substances Act is flawed because of the locked and immutable nature of it, besides the fact that the drug wars are a failure and it is a health issue not a criminal one.

Any drug on the CSA should have to be re-proven every 1-3 years to be medically dangerous to be kept on the list.

The problem is that once drugs get classified as a controlled substance, it is very difficult to get them out because neither the public nor legislature can easily remove it. The CSA list is managed entirely wrong. The CSA was setup to target certain dissidents initially by Nixon, it is nearly criminal that the drug war is ran by an organization that is untouchable and maintained by the enforcer.

The CSA should be completely abolished or recreated with expiring classifications, and the FDA can make recommendations on safety but then it is up to the people to decide. We need a Right to Body amendment at some point to get the state out of it and make drugs a health related matter not a criminal one.


> The Controlled Substances Act is flawed because of the locked and immutable nature of it, besides the fact that the drug wars are a failure and it is a health issue not a criminal one.

The Controlled Substances Act has multiple flaws. For one, the CSA explicitly grants different rights to different people on the basis of disability; which is not equal. "Equal Justice Under Law" is etched across the US Federal Supreme Court Building. The US (and now Vietnam) Declarations of Independence read: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

The Controlled Substances Act is predicated upon flawed logic: in order to prove a universal quantification ("it doesn't help anyone") one must show that for person in all_people: for condition in all_conditions: doesnt_help_with(x, person, condition; which is impossible when you're not an agency that funds drug research on all people with all conditions.

A single counterexample (an existential quantification) disproves a universal quantification.

Maybe computers and radar required logic skills that would've gone into law.

Furthermore, (1) write a function to determine whether a given Person has a (natural inalienable) right: what information may you require? (2) write a function to determine whether any two Persons have equal rights.

Furthermore, does the Constitution grant legislators the right to grant right-granting privileges to non-legislators?

> Any drug on the CSA should have to be re-proven every 1-3 years to be medically dangerous to be kept on the list.

One epidemiological statistic which could be used as a threshold is called "Margin of Exposure" (MOE). If alcohol sets that standard for legal dangerousness, most other substances are not too dangerous for persons with rights to Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness.

> We need a Right to Body amendment at some point to get the state out of it and make drugs a health related matter not a criminal one.

Alcohol Prohibition required a Constitutional Amendment; the Commerce Clause was already in place at the time and yet they felt that the Constitution did not enumerate the power to ban alcohol.

Regarding a person's liberty over their own body and mind: liberty is a natural inalienable right. As is pursuit of happiness.

A person can go buy, say, a chainsaw, and on their own property intentionally remove a limb while holding an apple in their mouth to be shot with flaming arrows on live television, and the government claims no loss; indeed the government has no right to claim loss due to dangerous acts entered into by citizens which do not infringe the rights of others.

More notes on the substance abuse problem and the other problems (e.g. human trafficking) it's complicitly creating:

https://is-this-valid.github.io/liberty

It's good to see that the FDA recognized the medical utility of CBD. Rescheduling or descheduling would be great for research.


While largely pedantic, and I mostly agree with you in principle, the hypothetical example is perhaps not the greatest.

A 19-year-old woman[0] is going to be serving 1 month of jail each year, for the next 6 years, due to circumstances quite similar to the example provided; perhaps rightfully so.

I do generally agree with you though -- the drug problem in the US is a health issue and (in the vast majority of situations) should not be a criminal matter. I can't fathom how we can have an AG that wants to use resources to "crack down" on marijuana when that same approach fails to curtail our opioid problems, an unquestionably more serious problem right now.

The disconnect from leadership versus on the ground 'real life' is completely unfathomable. I'm really not sure what a solution would look like when political campaigns are thriving at the extreme ends of the spectrum however.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/06/2...


A stunt person rides a motorcycle over a canyon; resulting in severe/fatal injury.

A stunt person's assistant materially assists a stunt person in riding a motorcycle over a canyon; resulting in severe/fatal injury.

In which case have whose rights been violated? Who is liable for the loss?

Should the eulogy for a stunt fatality be fundamentally different than for a person who accidentally caused self-harm through risky substance use?


Speaking of liberty to take risk and live TV, the film "Hot Rod" (2007) may provide some insight into what's going on in the mind of a person who is taking unnecessary risks for: acceptance (oxytocin) and excitement (adrenaline); though it doesn't provide any guidance as to how to avoid counterproductively reinforcing risky behaviors.

Keep in mind that these are all paid actors just following orders.

Is substance abuse intentional self-harm (suicide is legal) or a maybe-misguided attempt to pursue Happiness and end suffering?

How would you help Rod make better decisions? If Rod is not infringing rights, is Rod committing a crime by performing dangerous stunts?

Stunting is generally not medically useful.


The government has no obligation to protect people from themselves; only to resolve disputes and determine whether a party actually violated the rights of another or the state.

Public health is a worthwhile expenditure intended to help people make good decisions about their health and safety

As a community, we require standards with which to resolve disputes brought before the court: trade disputes, liability disputes; disputes over loss and infringed rights. In the status quo, such disputes involving illicit substances are resolved by the parties themselves: in the streets. Consumers are very unlikely to implicate themselves or their suppliers in order to bring safety to the market: child-safe packaging and labelling, liability insurance.

Should we require (1) legislation-justifying research to be held and made available for further review; (2) bills which intend to achieve a particular objective to be achieving that objective within a predefined amount of time according to an agreed-upon set of criteria before we continue to throw money at a failing approach?

Does Strict Scrutiny - developed to resolve 14th Amendment Equal Protection cases - implicitly require a bill which is transgressing literally our highest law ("Equal Justice Under Law") to be achieving the public safety interest it intended to solve?

For precedent, In Korematsu (1944) the court ruled that Equal Protection could be set aside in order to send Japanese-looking people to internment camps.

The age-old claim that CBD is not medically useful for any person with any condition is now disproven by the FDA's clearance to market Epidiolex; we should be asking how such an invalid assertion remained on the books; and whether it's ever been legal to differentially prosecute on the basis of disability.

THC is already recognized as on-label medically useful for AIDS and Cancer wasting. THC and other cannabinoids and terpenes may counteract some of the side-effects of just CBD.


well. that conflated a whole lot of separate issues.

you primarily went on a quest to find contradictions while completely ignoring how law actually works in this land

thoughtful though!


We tend to have issues with Equal rights/protections: slavery, voting rights, [school] segregation. Please help us understand how to do this Equally:

> Furthermore, (1) write a function to determine whether a given Person has a (natural inalienable) right: what information may you require? (2) write a function to determine whether any two Persons have equal rights.


> is a health issue not a criminal one.

It's both. Some drugs are so powerful, that you will lose your moral compass and do anything to secure more of the drug, including harming others. So, while I agree for the most part, certain hard drugs like heroin will have you mugging old ladies as soon as you run out of money.


Part of the reason for that is that heroin is artificially expensive due to prohibition. People who pay extortionary prices on the black market are less able to sustain their habit without turning to crime. It might be better if heroin was supplied by the medical community instead of drug cartels and smugglers (though this OxyContin situation isn't really demonstrating that).

For an illustration of how the black market affects prices, one can look at cannabis in the US - standard price for an ounce of high quality bud was about 350 a few years back. In states that have fully legalized, the going price has dropped to about 120.


Legalized weed has also significantly dropped the price of black market weed in states where it's not legal. I've seen about a 30% increase in quantity for the same price from the high margin sellers (delivery services).


How would you explain the widespread prevalence of alcohol addiction though? Tens of thousands of Americans die every year due to complications related to excessive usage of alcohol, which is both legal and fairly affordable. If harder drugs were legal and cheaper, wouldn't you expect to have at least as many people dying because of drug addiction related issues?

While I don't agree with criminalizing hard drugs, I would certainly think harder about making them as widely available as alcohol.


Alcohol is a very social drug, and thus has a fair bit of social self-reinforcement as a habit. Heroin is basically the opposite of social. Ever hung out with someone while they were on heroin (and you weren't)? They're no fun at all, though I'm sure they're having a great time (not that you can tell from the outside).

Of course that doesn't cover the other dangerous ones, like crack and meth (dangerous primarily for their potency), or the less dangerous ones like all (most) of the psychedelics.

Even though I've been internally debating it for ~20 years - I'm still not sure where I fall on the debate. Certainly our current policies are far too draconian for substances that we can show demonstrably to be less dangerous than drugs available legally, but where do you reasonably draw the line?

What does a real world, all-drugs-are-legal marketplace look like?


I see your point but have you met people with alcohol dependency? They aren't very social. Sure, most people do use alcohol in moderation as a social lubricant. But the people with alcohol related disorders frequently drink alone .

But your other question is interesting. I think it is an idea worth exploring and experimenting with, if only because the current ways of dealing with this don't really seem to be working. But what I would prefer even more is massive investment in medical sciences around research in addiction/drug use, and developing a somewhat more scientific approach to dependency problems than something like AA, which seems like religious horseshit. Instead of using all those resources to put people through the criminal justice system, if only we could use those resources for treatment and research....


> I see your point but have you met people with alcohol dependency? They aren't very social.

Fair enough but the scale from buzzed to antisocial is vastly shorter on heroin than alcohol. From my observations of others, the desired pleasurable dose of heroin takes you out of the conversation pretty much immediately. Thankfully I've never chased that dragon...


Heroin also has a therapeutic side, though. People sometimes start out taking milder opiates like oxycodone or hydrocodone for pain, from a prescription or friends/family/black market, and then end up using black market opiates because they're addicted, still in pain, or both and can't get a legal supply.


I didn't say it would reduce usage or addiction, just that it would make it less expensive. That means addicts would be less likely to have to turn to crime to obtain it. Legalization would also reduce overdoses, because almost all overdoses are due to unpredictable supply. I think this would be called harm reduction.

I agree that the legalization of cocaine, meth and heroin is a very difficult question. They are just… problematic.


Part of the problem is that alcohol and cocaine were perhaps the only substances which were well known to cause addiction and were easy to create and society tended to deal with them by prohibition in some form (cocaine was forbidden, alcohol is forbidden by some religions etc). And when you had all these new substances burst forth it was natural to try and restrict them.

We know now that isn't the best strategy to deal with it and we should act accordingly.


What do you mean exactly? Opiates have been known and used widely for a lot longer than cocaine, and so has cannabis as a drug, and Asia at least. Opium it was known throughout the old world and ancient and medieval times, but cocaine certainly wasn't. I think the Greeks commented on it's addictive properties. There is medieval and ancient commentary on hashish eaters (the word assassin is said to come from a clan of hash-addicted killers). Amanita mushrooms have a long history of use by humans, as do psilocybin mushrooms. Also, tobacco and coffee have been used and abused for centuries or millenia.

At various times, many societies have tried to deal with addictive substances by prohibition and harsh punishments. For instance, when tobacco was first introduced to Spain, it was seen as a horrible thing that definitely had something to do with Satan, and possession became punishable by death. That didn't stop people from using it and becoming addicted.

Balzac is famed to have been insanely addicted to coffee, drinking it in the form of a thick sludge that he said he required to be creative and productive.

Another example were the Opium Wars. Part of the issue was concerned about use of opiates in China. For example this quote from Wikipedia about the First Opium War:

"The influx of narcotics reversed the Chinese trade surplus, drained the economy of silver, and increased the numbers of opium addicts inside the country, outcomes that worried Chinese officials.

In 1839 the Daoguang Emperor, rejecting proposals to legalise and tax opium, appointed viceroy Lin Zexu to solve the problem by completely banning the opium trade (it had already been illegal to smoke and sell certain forms of opium in China since 1729)."


I don't know anyone where the barrier to them trying heroin is legality.

And I don't think anyone but the most hardcore libertarians are for heroin to be as widely available as alcohol.

But I think there's a middle ground between heroin at your local corner store and the current life destroying monster known as the drug war.


Illegality puts up many barriers to trying heroin - thanksfiully. One has to deal with unknown, unsavory characters met through personal connection, or asking strangers in random places or dangerous areas of town.

I assume the middle ground will be a dispensary filled with treatment suggestions.


Yes, if you run out of money. That is the first assumption which doesn't hold true for the majority of addicts (who are at least moderately functional, as opposed to the dysfunctional picture you're painting here). Addiction is a complicated array of factors that either push you further into it or do not, and a lot of it has to do with your social safety net. In the average american case, I'll admit this appears to not be there. In places where this isn't so much the case, prospects for long-term addicts are much, much better (look towards the more permissive countries in Europe for evidence on this).


This isn't a great argument, as the same could be said for food, water, and even money itself.

Desperation is what causes those situations, not the drugs.


The drug wars weren't a failure. The intentions of the people that started and maintained them was generally the promotion of a certain set of moral standards and oppression of certain populations or simply a desire to follow rules.

I generally think that the CSA/drug wars or something like them may have been necessary to keep this country together. The problem with mind altering substances is that they work, and there were people who wanted to use them to change the world. They could have, not necessarily in a good way. Some things needed to be treated with more care and study and instead they spread like wildfire through a counterculture.


> I generally think that the CSA/drug wars or something like them may have been necessary to keep this country together. The problem with mind altering substances is that they work, and there were people who wanted to use them to change the world. They could have, not necessarily in a good way. Some things needed to be treated with more care and study and instead they spread like wildfire through a counterculture.

Can you be less vague and explain what you're talking about?


Psychedelic drugs and their countercultural following were transforming into something like a radical religion in the mid 20th century (the 60s prominently).

An example:

Timothy Leary was a Harvard psychologist who went a big rouge and was said to be "the most dangerous man in America" by Nixon. His slogan was "Turn on, tune in, drop out" and a lot of people were taking him seriously.

Charles Manson used LSD to indoctrinate his cult members.

Psychedelics are powerful tools, they can give profound, religious experiences and the people administering and using them have a lot of power to change their worldview, behaviours, etc. It seems they can be used to do a lot of good or bad or something in between like any powerful tool, but they were being used by a counterculture that wanted quite a lot of change very fast.


They did change the world though.

I was brought up in a conservative household and hippie was a derogatory term in my household for a drug-addicted vagabond. But the counterculture gave us music, changes sexual and religious mores, and lead to a fundamental shift in how people thought of themselves as a part of society and the world, at least in the West. And a lot of this experimentation and culture was fueled/inspired by drugs.

Nixon wanted to end, or at least control that.


I want to clarify that by "successful" I meant that they were successful in achieving the actual motivations behind many of the actions by the people that got the drug wars started. These motivations were not necessarily stated or good, but they were successful.


The general consensus on Hacker News is that drugs are banned as a method of control over undesirable populations, rather than out of any real concern for people's health.

Undoubtedly, someone will reply to your comment with the quote from Nixon's advisor about how they invented the war on drugs to target the antiwar left and black people.


This comes up a lot. While it works as an explanation for the US, it's an international issue; it's not one of those things where the US does it differently without realising.

What happens is usually a mix of factors. Drugs aren't purely harmless, you can certainly find a few people who've been harmed directly and a larger group of people whose use is problematic. This creates a demand for Something To Be done.

This falls down on comparisons with alcohol and tobacco - both of which are widely legal and have their own temperance movements, but haven't quite succeeded in a total ban yet. America (and a few other places) actually did have a War On Booze, they just gave up because it's too socially normalised. Only the more extreme Islamic countries manage official temperance, and even there it's widely violated.


Alcohol was banned in the US that turned out to be such a bad idea we changed the constitution.

Drugs are an old thing the Opium Wars started in 1839 and alcohol significantly predates writing.


> America (and a few other places) actually did have a War On Booze, they just gave up because it's too socially normalised

They might've given up because alcohol prohibition increased the crime and alcohol poisoning rates; because it was killing more people than it was saving.

They might've given up because the state prohibition laws had exceptions for religious and medical purposes and so were explicitly unequal ("de jure discriminatory")


> alcohol prohibition increased the crime and alcohol poisoning rates; because it was killing more people than it was saving.

Lots of people have argued that the same is true of the drug war, it's just that the mainstream discourse isn't interested in examining this as a factual proposition.

> They might've given up because the state prohibition laws had exceptions for religious and medical purposes and so were explicitly unequal

Same is true of the drug laws (e.g. opiates)?


I guess people don't want to review data that could help solve the optimization problem (maximize Constitutional compliance, minimize crime, minimize unintentional self harm, minimize loss, minimize suffering, maximize Liberty and pursuit of Happiness; with no particular ranking) amidst emotional rhetoric.

Strict Scrutiny requires a law which violates equality to be the absolute minimum necessary policy which achieves the public interest objective(s).


If they were concerned about users health, then drugs would have been legal and regulated. Under prohibition people ability to buy clean and cheap drugs is very limited. That leads to severe health risks.


seems to me like a combination of that original reason, being persisted by bureaucratic momentum and lobbying from police retirement funds and for-profit prisons.


You don't agree?


I largely agree with the consensus, although I can see how my comment may have been dismissive of that. I'm pro-legalisation (or at minimum decriminalisation) for all recreational drugs and I believe the War on Drugs has been a complete and unmitigated failure in its stated goals.

But I don't think it's the only reason that recreational drugs were banned and have been kept banned. My other theory on why prohibition is popular is due to conservative Protestants believing that mind altering substances are immoral. I've encountered a lot of people who are against recreational drugs for the very fact that they are recreational (while hypocritically still enjoying alcohol).


> The current drug regulation regime strikes me as backwards--it seems that the more appropriate assumption should be to not regulate a substance, until it can be shown to be harmful

The problem with this approach is that it would lead to a proliferation of snake-oil salesmen.

If the effort to create a new 'drug' is trivial, but the study on efficacy/harm is long and expensive, then there would be a huge number of snake-oil offerings.

Take colored water, slap a 'it cures cancer' sticker on it, and start selling it the public. In a couple of years, once there are studies showing that it's just colored water, and does nothing, just shut down the product and make a new one. The regulatory/safety efforts would never be able to keep up.


My thoughts:

1. In general I don't see the government's role being to police snake oil salespersons. Fraud in the form of inaccurate ingredient lists, etc. but not the snake oil itself (people should be able to sell snake oil, but it should actually be snake oil). I mean, when you have people drinking bleach for various conditions, can you really say the current regime is working? What about physicians overprescribing opioids or other drugs? It's pretty clear it doesn't work, IMHO. People need to be educated, not policed.

2. However, I can see regulating claims at the point of sale without regulating substances. For all the criticisms and controversy over vitamins, I think that's the regulatory regime that should be applied to all substances. Prevent use claims on product, regulate accuracy of ingredient lists but not sale of product per se.

3. We currently have a process for determining ability to consent due to neurodegenerative disease, genetic disorders, psychiatric disorders, etc. This could easily be applied to substance use. It seems to me the better way to approach substances is to assume people know what they're doing, and if their use gets problematic enough, approach it as a loss-of-ability-to-consent issue just like if someone had severe Alzheimer's. Get them assessed by psychiatrists or psychologists, and require it to go through a legal proceeding. That's imperfect, but better to me than just assuming everyone is a criminal.

4. I wish all the money that was going into drug enforcement and FDA regulations would go into research, education, prevention, and treatment. I think we'd have far fewer problems if the FDA were focused on drug use as a public health problem rather than a criminal/regulation problem. Educate, prevent, treat.


Snake oil already seems to be a problem, with CBD oil.

A nurse I know told me about a woman who had been treating her breast cancer with CBD oil, convinced that CBD cures cancer. She finally went to the hospital when her entire breast became necrotic, and died not long after that.


Issues today include snakeoil salesmen, but something else too. Maybe you would call it fad folk medicine. Snakeoil without the salesmen. People writing and sharing elaborate health advice not for profit (maybe for clicks) having little or no connection to science.


Conventional doctors still prescribe premarin, as if horse urine still has therapeutic value.

Premarin == PREgnant MAre's uRINe. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conjugated_estrogens

The tragedy of this situation is that physiologists have actually figured out a lot about the hormones since premarin was released. But horse urine is still a big business for the drug industry, even after the Women's Health Initiative was shut down early...

10 minutes appointments (edit: and symptomatic prescriptions) aren't long enough to drill down to the root of a patient's symptoms.


This is exactly the kind of snakeoil folk medicine I am talking about.

You are trying to argue that hormone therapy has no therapeutic value because one particular drug is derived from a biological source? Urine is gross so obviously the drug is a fraud? Mixed in with "big business" conspiracy. That is the kind of argument that should only work on a small child.


(Just noticed your reply. It's been 5 days - this reply is strictly "for the record" & I don't expect you to notice).

> You are trying to argue that hormone therapy has no therapeutic value [...]

Estrogen therapy has always been a scam without therapeutic value. DES actually gave women's daughters vaginal cancer. Prescription horse piss actually gave women breast cancer. Etc etc etc.

Various other therapies are appropriate to help restore balance to people's (both male and female) hormone systems.

> Urine is gross so obviously the drug is a fraud?

How many women would take Premarin if their doctor said, "I'm going to give you some concentrated horse urine to help with these symptoms you're having." Exactly none. Synthetic Premarin-equivalents give women breast cancer just the same as genuine horse estrogen.

> Mixed in with "big business" conspiracy.

Pharmaceutical companies create "evidence" to justify their product, then the product gets pulled a few years later when it's realized the side effects aren't worth the negligible benefits. The fines are a fraction of their profits. Call it a conspiracy if you want - I prefer "fraud".


prolifiration of synthetic cannabionoids kind of defeats your point.

the only counter is to not ban anything


The EU chemicals directive (REACH) actually goes the other way: you have to at least perform a safety assessment on everything you want to sell or include in a product.

The problem is that cannabis was never shown to be more harmful than tobacco scientifically in the first place, but the public and politicians were led to believe that it was. By the 1950s equivalents of "fake news".

You can see a similar "manufacture of risk" process going on with vaccines at the moment, which is very dangerous. It's also routine for the UK press to engage in ridiculously exaggerated anti-drugs campaigning, as it fits their sensational moralistic worldview.

Arguably more of a problem is the "we know this has risks but we can't feasibly ban it" category: alcohol.


The situation in the UK with regards to cannabis is ridiculous - politicians and hate-spewing rags such as the Daily Mail have people believing all sorts of falsehoods that harm campaigns for legality. The nonsensical reclassification of cannabis as a class B drug - despite expert recommendations - has also done a lot of harm.

There are some recent signs that expensive, synthetic cannabinoid-based drugs may get licensed here for an extremely limited set of medical circumstances, but I can't see British politicians going any further than that within my lifetime. The pace of change with regards to drug policy is maddeningly slow.


I often think about what would have happened if the Lib Dems didn't commit political suicide by going back on their single biggest campaign promise (by tripling tuition fees)

They're pro-legalisation, and if they still had 60+ seats in parliament they could be making real progress towards at least decriminalisation (probably under a labour coalition)


They are not pro-legalisation. They had a drug minister who did nothing to ease prohibition. I don't believe anything they say, they have lost any credibility they had.


They may have no credibility, but they are officially pro-legalisation


After re-classification as class B it is worth mentioning that the press engaged in a smear campaign against the scientists, to make sure no scientist will ever dare to recommend something like decriminalisation.


The question pro-legalisers have to address is the very clear evidence we now have that cannabis use causes psychosis in some users.

Every time people say "It doesn't" that sets back legalisation another 5 years.


Link? Everything I've read cannot prove causality, just correlation.

It's very hard to prove causality, especially when marijuana's scheduling does not allow for proper scientific research.


> The problem is that cannabis was never shown to be more harmful than tobacco scientifically in the first place,

Comparing anything to tobacco is weird because we spend considerable amounts of money trying to get people to stop smoking.

And we now have very good evidence that cannabis causes psychosis. That's pretty harmful.


I just did a cursory review of some papers, and it seems like cannabis can induce psychosis. It looks like there's somewhere around 1.5-2.5x increased chance of psychosis diagnosis for cannabis consumers, although age and family history of schizophrenia matter.

From the NIH site on psychosis[0], about 3% of the US population in their lifetime[1]. About 100k adolescents annually have an episode.

For comparison, alcohol induced psychosis is common. Dependent alcoholics men face an 8x increase in risk; women see a 3x increase.[2]

[0] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/raise/r...

[1] worth noting that psychosis is not a "permanent" condition.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substance-induced_psychosis


For all the talk, the classification of drugs is not a purely scientific decision. It is, at least in part, a reflection of agreed societal norms. Those norms are expressed through the elected government, who in turn control many strings within the FDA. There are solid scientific arguments to reclassify many things but don't expect that to mean anything to the political appointee who has to sign the document.

Question: Is there a medical use for alcohol? I mean drinking the stuff, not as a disinfectant. I read lots of stuff about uses for LSD and pot in therapy. Is anyone using/studying alcohol?


Consider the same rationale for security: let's allow any user to do anything with our ecosystem, unless we know them to be malevolent.

I'd argue that the human body is a lot more worthy of defending than a cloud platform. I'm totally fine with a whitelist model.

Cannabis was a fluke; legislation was pushed through by a political opportunist despite the AMA pointing out that there was no evidence of harm caused by cannabis. The regulation model in itself is fine, we just need to take the people out of the decision making. :-)


> it seems that the more appropriate assumption should be to not regulate a substance, until it can be shown to be harmful

How are you going to stop people from dying when I sell arsenic as a baldness cure?


It is not just about harm. FDA rules on medical products also in fitness of purpose. If you can show that your arsenic preparation is effective and safe, it will be allowed on the market. Likewise MDMA preparations and cannabis preparations for specific purposes. (They cannot because it is schedule I. )

DEA governs the drug schedule, not FDA. That should be don from almost strictly criminal point of view, with major politicization.


> It is not just about harm. FDA rules on medical products also in fitness of purpose.

This is because most drugs aren't really that good for you, however in the context of some illness, the disease may be worse than the unwanted effects of the drug.

A good example is methotrexate (MTX): wow, it really clears up its patients' arthritis, but it's so toxic that it's only administered to patients who are more at risk of dying of cancer than of the MTX.

I've appeared before the FDA (in pursuit of drug approval) and in my experience they're actually more than fair. The biggest problem is the assholes who try to game the system, which just gums up the works for everyone.

edit: I'm no longer in that biz so have nothing to gain by praising or condemning the FDA. The approval process is far from perfect but I honestly think it's pretty good overall.


Technically the DEA doesn't control the drug schedule either. Under the Controlled Substance Act the Attorney General controls the scheduling of drugs. Attorney General's have delegated this responsibility to the DEA but could reassign it to any part of the DoJ at anytime or choose to override any decision of the DEA.


People drink bleach to cure autism. Should we ban bleach?

First, there's a difference between allowing the sale and distribution of a substance at all and selling it with a claim. All I would say is that [almost?] no substance's sale should be banned. Maybe taxed or something.

Second, this is going to sound harsh to some, but I think at some point, if someone buys arsenic to cure baldness, it's their responsibility.

It's fairly common for people to seek expert advice on something not because it's legally mandated, but because there is a culture and individual understanding that something is outside of your ability/skill to do without severe negative consequences. I have someone else do my taxes because I don't want to screw something up. You can represent yourself in a court of law, but in most/many cases it's inadvisable. If I need to have certain things done on my house, I hire an expert because I don't want to cause damage and/or injury. I think a similar cultural norm needs to exist regarding substances and health care more broadly.

To me there's something fundamentally illogical about the current approach to drugs, because if taken to its logical conclusion, it involves banning people from purchasing any substance unless they have appropriate credentials. The government just allows exceptions to the logic (e.g, alcohol, household chemicals, etc.) because to enforce it would lead to a lot of uproar. That seems really legally unsound to me. The more sound approach would look totally different.


> People drink bleach to cure autism. Should we ban bleach?

No, but we should stop anyone from trying to sell bleach as an autism cure.


I'm fairly sure that arsenic is known to be harmful.


Pick something else then. Say I come up with a new chemical which ends up being toxic but I sell it anyways.


He's going to wait for a bunch of people to die, start a class action lawsuit, spend the next ten to fifteen years researching and litigating to determine whether or not arsenic does, in fact, cause cancer, and then, tens of millions of dollars and thousands of lives later, let a dozen people who were not smart enough to get out of jury duty make that determination.

Best case-for-the-public scenario, he's going to end up paying a fine to the government, that will be used to advertise the dangers of arsenic, and will be given retroactive immunity to any new class action lawsuits. The only way that he will be able to pay that fine, will be by continuing to selling arsenic to the public, killing thousands more.

If that seems too outlandish, may I direct you to tobacco trials? [1] Legal, until proven harmful turned out absolutely great there!

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_Master_Settlement_Agre...


by vetting the supplier...you may not pass given this public statement ;)


Education?


Welcome to choir practice, father.


Researchers having trouble due to Schedule 1 status in the states seems weird, when Canada just legalized recreational use. What has this war on drugs given America?


http://www.maps.org/research/mmj

https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.answers.php?questio...

War on drugs has way to much history to answer that question on HN. The answers are endless and not satisfactory to anyone that doesn't understand how complex the entire web of politics actually can get.

What we have at the end of the day is a mental health crisis, an opiod crisis, depression and suicide is more prevalent than ever, we are practically number 1 at jailing people in the world, the amount of money collected and spent fighting drugs in this country could have most likely solved the homeless problem, paid for education for generations, kept our infrastructure updated more than it is today, organized crime would probably still be organized but not profitable enough to topple entire sections of the planet (south and Central America as an example), our veterans wouldnt be in as much pain as they are in today, etc etc...(without even accounting for black market profits)

I am not saying the war on drugs is a specific tool to jail minorities because that ruins the entire conversation by pointing at one issue and not looking at anything else. Yes minorities are jailed in alarming numbers for a variety of reasons. But people not in jail are dying everyday because of the drug war via organized crime, street crime (gangs), overdoses, and suicides.

The war on drugs isn't responsible for all of societies problems in America but it sure as hell created most of them.


Well, while looking through the history of LSD, it was banned, since people became more spiritual and harder to control. Not going to wars and being happy with working simple jobs. While it is not the exact case for marihuana, the effects and outcome might be close.


>What has this war on drugs given America?

Mass incarceration, militarized police forces, and a public health crisis


Don't forget asset forfeiture and increased tax rates / deficit spending.


Canada was late to the party. It was already legal for recreational use in 9 U.S. states, including in the capital. 4th & K NW reeks of it.


it's pretending to be legal in those states, whereas in canada, it will actually be legal.


The honest answer is that it gives conservatives the ability to be racist and imprison minorities for minor offenses.


Taking HN threads into flamewar is not allowed here. We ban accounts that do this, so please don't. The effects on the community are destructive and basically always the same.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


It should be noted that the above comment is likely far less trying to incite a flame war, and more likely referencing the alleged reasoning for the 'war on drugs' was to directly marginalise African Americans and 'hippies'.

"The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."

— John D. Ehrlichman, former Nixon aide, interview with Dan Baum


This is what i was going for, i should have cited my source


That's just your honest opinion...


"The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."

— John D. Ehrlichman, former Nixon aide, interview with Dan Baum

Yup; thats just my opinion.... it also happens to be factual history. Can't HN be less sterile and accept the facts of history and reality; we don't exist in a vacuum.


THC is already an approved drug in the US under the name nabilone. It’s schedule 2.

This newly approved drug is CBD. There is no need for the DEA to reschedule marijuana. They’ve already been ok with this contradictory scheduling for over a decade.


>THC is already an approved drug in the US under the name nabilone. It’s schedule 2.

Nabilone is a THC analog, with a slightly different molecular makeup than THC extracted from Cannabis. So no, THC is not schedule 2 under US law, as it is explicitly listed schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act.

Granted, the WHO recommends it be listed schedule III or IV, which I agree with...


Good point on nabilone being an analogue, not THC itself.

I guess my point is that the DEA doesn’t require it’s scheduling to be logical at all.


There is also GHB/sodium oxybate. It would be nice if this approval caused a major shift, but I tend to doubt it.


Marinol was approved in 1985

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dronabinol


Thank you! That was the drug I was thinking of, not nabilone. It’s THC, the same as in marijuana.


Most important quote:

> We’ll continue to support rigorous scientific research on the potential medical uses of marijuana-derived products and work with product developers who are interested in bringing patients safe and effective, high-quality products. But, at the same time, we are prepared to take action when we see the illegal marketing of CBD-containing products with serious, unproven medical claims. Marketing unapproved products, with uncertain dosages and formulations, can keep patients from accessing appropriate, recognized therapies to treat serious and even fatal diseases.

I can't believe the number of ridiculous statements I've seen and heard about medical marijuana. It's our modern-day equivalent of the witch doctor.

Looks like the FDA is finally going to allow legitimate research and medicine. [Edit] This will reign in all the unproven claims that marijuana is essentially a cure-all.

[Edit] I support complete legalization of marijuana for recreational use.


Perhaps someone from the US could help me understand the federal vs state legality of cannabis in the USA?

Can a state override any federal law?

Could federal-level law enforcement theoretically charge someone in a cannabis-legal state for drug offenses?


> Can a state override any federal law?

No, by the "Supremacy clause" of the Constitution.

> Could federal-level law enforcement theoretically charge someone in a cannabis-legal state for drug offenses?

Yes. Because people interact much more with local police than federal police, it makes a big difference whether or not the local police enforce these laws. The Obama administration also chose not to enforce federal marijuana laws in states with less restrictive state laws. But both of these relate to enforcement rather than legality.


Actually, IIRC/IANAL, SINCE recreational use is legal in D.C., federally the government's hands are tied, because I believe what is legal in D.C. is legal in all federal jurisdictions (except where state laws says otherwise), so Federally, I believe Marijuana is no longer prosecutable per se, I could be wrong -- but states that still ban it can prosecute since it's their state law.


Sounds like a legal urban legend.


Maybe, I heard it on here, and they probably were 'IANAL' too.


The supremacy clause combined with interstate commerce clause. Because any action might have a ripple-of-butterfly-wings effect on commerce, the federal law can claim interstate commerce would be affected. So it can supersede many state laws. You'll find various claims of "State's Rights" where politically convenient vs supremacy clause where convenient depending on political scores.


Yes and no. The authority of the Federal Government is constrained by what the Constitution explicitly authorizes; specifically, Article 1, Section 8 -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enumerated_powers_(United_Stat... -- lists the things over which the Federal Government has original jurisdiction. The 10th Amendment goes further by stating that all powers not specifically delegated to the federal government are the domain of the States and the People.

To this topic, one hypothetical could be: the DEA conducts a raid on pot growers in Colorado and the Colorado state police arrest the feds for attempting to enforce an invalid federal law which was passed outside of the bounds of the enumerated powers. Sounds crazy, right? There's a precedent for this. During the US Civil War, Federal Marshals who had apprehended a runaway slave (pursuant to the Fugitive Slave Act) were themselves arrested by local authorities in Wisconsin for kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment. The principle in play sometimes goes by the name of "nullification" -- a great book on this topic can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003TJAX0Q/

In practice, however, neither the States nor the Federal government have sought to have a decisive ruling on this question because it would either be the end of any semblance of State's Rights or sheer anarchy when countless laws and regulations are suddenly taken off the books -- one of which being the likely outcome from this going to the Supreme Court (not counting the more remote possibility of a new Civil War where the States might refuse to accept as impartial the ruling by a Federal Court on behalf of the Federal Government).


> Could federal-level law enforcement theoretically charge someone in a cannabis-legal state for drug offenses?

All these dispensaries are having a problem getting the money they make into the banking system because of federal law enforcement potentially going after the banks for laundering drug money or somesuch.

Don't think that's actually happened but it could which is enough for the bankers to steer clear.

I was reading a while back the biggest problem for the feds is local enforcement simply refuses to cooperate with them (since it's legal under state law and their job is to enforce state, not federal, law) and they don't have the resources to cause as much damage as they wish.


I don't think state laws override federal laws, they're just enforced by different agencies.

Yes. You can get in trouble in a National Park in any of the legal states, since those are federal land and the rangers are federal law enforcement.


> Can a state override any federal law?

No. There's been a lot of debate about this throughout history, but states overriding federal law has consistently been found to be unconstitutional. There are, however, other means to effect state overrides of federal law:

* Generally, only federal law can preempt state law. It is difficult (but not impossible) for the federal government to deregulate an industry and prevent states from reregulating it (pertinent modern example: net neutrality), as the lack of a federal law does not preempt a state law.

* States can direct their officers to refuse to enforce federal law. Historically, this happened with respect to the Fugitive Slave Act. SCOTUS has pretty consistently ruled that this is kosher, which has led Congress to tie granting money (particularly highway money) to acting in accord with its wishes. In more recent times, something similar has come up with respect to "sanctuary cities."


Interesting question! I'll give my take on it, which ties the answer to a 1942 wartime court case called Wickard v. Filburn.

The Tenth Amendment states the powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the States or to the people. The existence of some federal agencies may contradict the 10th Amendment, but the US Gov. has good reason to set policies on nuclear material regulation (Dept. of Energy), or airspace rules (FAA), and many other policy areas which could not have been foreseen at the time of the Constitution. The Framers of the Constitution could have written a clause allowing the government to regulate alcohol, cannabis, or any of the intoxicating drugs that existed at the time (opium?), but they didn't, so what is the basis for the 1970's Controlled Substances Act?

The specific precedent utilized by the CSA is based a very, very loose interpretation of the Interstate Commerce Clause, which states the Federal Government has power "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes". This clause is important to prevent States from placing taxes and tariffs on goods from other States, but in a 1942 wartime decision the Supreme Court greatly expanded the interpretation of this clause, giving power to the federal government to regulate or prohibit any economic activity (including economic activity involving drugs).

In 1942 the US Government had placed quotas on wheat production to stabilize prices during wartime (side note, the government no longer uses quotas to accomplish price stabilization, but instead the USDA will buy crops directly when surpluses develop). Filburn had grown more wheat than his allotted quota and was fined for producing too much. Filburn argued that because he never sold the extra grain and grew it for use on his farm (animal feed), the quota did not apply because it would not enter the market. The case made it up to the Supreme Court, which ruled against Filburn on the basis that no production is strictly local because any surplus on Filburn's part would affect the amount of grain he bought, which would percolate through the market in aggregate. You can read more about the Wickard v. Filburn case on Wikipedia. That decision ultimately gave the US Government the power to regulate any economic activity.


states cannot override any federal law.

the federal government merely tolerates the semi-autonomous nature of states in order to maintain order. but the legality of the federal government's supremacy is well evolved, its power and might is extremely disproportionally higher than any collective of states, and at this point the semi-autonomous nature of states is pure fiction as the federal government can assume jurisdiction over any intra-state matter if it wanted to through its interstate commerce laws.

yes, federal level law enforcement can theoretically charge someone in a cannabis-legal state for drug offenses. this still happens. the discretion of the words of the President, the heads of the DEA and DOJ prevent the MAJORITY of it from happening and also guide the discretion of the courts and public sympathy. so right now, for the last two administrations it has not been a priority to upset the social order in cannabis-legal states. but it can still happen.


> states cannot override any federal law.

Not actually true: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nullification_(U.S._Constituti...


> not actually true

a concept which requires agreement from the federal courts themselves, who have never upheld a single argument related to this concept.

not actually what?


Selective incorporation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incorporation_of_the_Bill_of_R...

10th Amendment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenth_Amendment_to_the_United_...

> The Tenth Amendment, which makes explicit the idea that the federal government is limited to only the powers granted in the Constitution, has been declared to be a truism by the Supreme Court.

Supremacy clause: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supremacy_Clause

> The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2) establishes that the Constitution, federal laws made pursuant to it, and treaties made under its authority, constitute the supreme law of the land.[1] It provides that state courts are bound by the supreme law; in case of conflict between federal and state law, the federal law must be applied. Even state constitutions are subordinate to federal law.[2] In essence, it is a conflict-of-laws rule specifying that certain federal acts take priority over any state acts that conflict with federal law

Natural rights ('inalienable rights': Equal rights, Life, Liberty, pursuit of Happiness): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_and_legal_rights

9th Amendment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninth_Amendment_to_the_United_...

> The Ninth Amendment (Amendment IX) to the United States Constitution addresses rights, retained by the people, that are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. It is part of the Bill of Rights.

If the 9th Amendment recognizes any unenumerated rights of the people (with Supremacy, regardless of selective incorporation), it certainly recognizes those of the Declaration of Independence ((secession from the king ('CSA')), Equality, Life, Liberty, pursuit of Happiness), our non-binding charter which frames the entirety of the Constitutional convention


All of these things have been interpreted by the courts and their conclusion was not like yours

It is nice that you are interested in these things, but they simply cannot be read verbatim and then extrapolated to other things.

This isn't educational for anybody, this is a view that lacks all consensus and all avenues to ever garner consensus in this country.


Again, I ask you to explain how the current law grants equal rights.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17401906

> We tend to have issues with Equal rights/protections: slavery, voting rights, [school] segregation. Please help us understand how to do this Equally:

>> Furthermore, (1) write a function to determine whether a given Person has a (natural inalienable) right: what information may you require? (2) write a function to determine whether any two Persons have equal rights.

Abolitionists faced similar criticism from on high.


Marijuana is only schedule 1 because of Nixon attacks against his “enemies,” hippies and blacks, as cooberated by Ehrlichman. And as the 1920’s and Portugal prove, Prohibition always backfires and helps criminals.


Wait sched 1? I can buy it at the vape shop nextdoor in detroit.


It's legal/decriminalized in some states/cities but that is in spite of federal law, not because of it. It's still illegal at the federal level.




Applications are open for YC Winter 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: