When Nixon was in office, he kept for his personal records now famous audio recordings of his interactions with individuals in the Oval Office. There is one such recording with Raymond Shafer himself, who is more or less told that marijuana was to remain classified as a Schedule I narcotic, regardless of his findings.
"You're enough of a pro," Nixon tells him, "to know that for you to come out with something that would run counter to what the Congress feels and what the country feels, and what we're planning to do, would make your commission just look bad as hell." This conversation was recorded in 1971—the year before the Commission released its report.
We can imagine Nixon’s surprise when the actual report was released. His administration never implemented the commission's recommendation. The DEA has since either rejected or stonewalled petitions to reschedule marijuana. Today, marijuana is still Schedule I.
The Obama administration similarly deflects and obfuscates direct challenges to the current federal laws against marijuana. In 2011, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) submitted a petition to legalize marijuana via the Obama administration’s online “We the People” initiative. At the time, with its nearly 75,000 signatures, it was the most popular petition submitted to date. The petition listed some of the numerous injustices associated with marijuana laws and asked, “Isn’t it time to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol? If not, please explain why you feel that the continued criminalization of cannabis will achieve the results in the future that it has never achieved in the past?”
The administration’s response dodged NORML's question. “According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health—the world’s largest source of drug abuse research—marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment.”
That statement linked to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) pages among others to cite supporting evidence. NORML responded with a blow-by-blow rebuttal of the scientific evidence the Obama administrated cited to support its claims about the dangers of marijuana use. But in a demoralizing echo of the now 40-year-old Shafer report, these studies speaking to the safety or even benefits of marijuana have once again fallen on deaf ears.
All the while, we are seeing more NIDA-funded brain imaging studies that use language like “abnormality” and “damage” to characterize our hidden biological relationships to otherwise inexplicably unlawful substances.
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In 2001, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) used positron emission tomography (PET) scans to claim that MDMA or Ecstasy damages the brain, another example of using brain scans for an agenda.
The images were selected from a NIDA-funded study led by Johns Hopkins University neuroscientist George Ricaurte. The study, which culminated in a 1998 Lancet publication, compared PET scans of the brains of 14 MDMA users to those of 15 non-MDMA users. The researchers used a radioactive chemical that could show isolated serotonin activity in the brain. The brain images of the former MDMA users glowed less, suggesting that the drug had reduced their serotonin production. The exact language of the study was that, “… these data suggest that human MDMA users are susceptible to MDMA-induced brain 5-HT [serotonin] neural injury.”