U.S.: Medical Marijuana Patients Deliver Petition Demanding DEA Head's Firing

ChuckRosenbergDEA[KamenkoPajic-UPI]

100,000+ Petition Signers Outraged That Obama Administration Official Called Medical Cannabis a "Joke"

A group of medical marijuana patients and their supporters on Friday delivered more than 100,000 petition signatures demanding the resignation or firing of the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) after he called the medical use of cannabis a "joke."

The petition -- http://change.org/nojoke -- has more than double the amount of signatures garnered by an earlier petition that helped lead to the ouster of the previous DEA head, who also opposed medical marijuana. The current petition was started just two weeks ago.

“There is no doubt in my mind that my son Jagger is still alive today because of medical cannabis," said Sebastien Cotte, who participated in the petition delivery. "Cannabis has tremendously decreased the pain and seizures caused by his mitochondrial disease, while improving his quality of life. For our family, that’s no joke.”

Numerous scientific studies show that marijuana is beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of serious conditions like cancer, AIDS, epilepsy and many others.

"My mom uses medical marijuana to deal with the severe pain caused by multiple sclerosis,” said Tom Angell, founder and chairman of Marijuana Majority, the organization that started the petition. “This issue is not a laughing matter for her and millions of other people who have seen the benefits of cannabis for themselves."

Major organizations like American Nurses Association, American College of Physicians and American Academy of Family Physicians have looked carefully at the scientific evidence and come out in support of medical marijuana. National and state polls consistently show overwhelming bipartisan voter support for passing laws to protect medical cannabis patients from arrest.

"There's nothing funny about suicidal thoughts, and they are something my family and I lived with on a daily basis due to my military-related PTSD," said TJ Thompson, a Navy veteran who helped deliver the petition to DEA. "Using medical marijuana not only directly helps with my condition, but it has the added effect of making me a better father and husband."

Earlier this month, DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg angered medical cannabis advocates by dismissing the issue as a joke. "What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal -- because it's not,” he said. “We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don't call it medicine -- that is a joke."

On Thursday, a bipartisan group of members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama urging him to fire Rosenberg, writing that his comments "send a clear signal to the American people that the federal government isn’t listening to them. It erodes trust. Cavalier statements like these fly in the face of state policy and the experience of millions of patients."

Twenty-three U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Guam have comprehensive medical marijuana programs. Seventeen additional states have laws allowing for limited use of certain marijuana extracts, primarily by children suffering from severe seizure disorders. Americans for Safe Access, which is supporting the petition, reports that there are more than two million Americans who use medical cannabis in accordance with these state laws.

The petition was started by Marijuana Majority, an organization dedicated to making sure the media, politicians and government officials treat marijuana as a serious issue that is important to a growing majority of Americans.

Photo of Chuck Rosenberg: Kamenko Pajic/UPI