WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 25: Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing concerning federal efforts to combat the opioid crisis, October 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers on the committee threatened to subpoena information from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) regarding their delayed responses about drug distributors that poured in millions of pain pills into West Virginia. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

health | 12.12.2019

The FDA receives a petition to prohibit sugar alongside cannabis, LSD and heroin

It kinda makes sense.

As a collective species, we’re not super great at taking care of ourselves. Excesses and vices are not only exploited and commercialized, but made ubiquitous. And I’m not even talking about drugs. For some, that’s part of the problem. One group believes that sugar is more harmful than marijuana, and is lobbying to have the Food and Drug Administration treat it as such.

The FDA classifies dangerous substances on what’s called the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) according to their addictive potential and medical value, among other factors. Drugs classified on the CSA as Schedule I, the most restrictive category, include LSD, cocaine and heroin. Cannabis is also a Schedule I substance, but as evidence mounts that its reward far, far outweigh its risk, attempts to delist marijuana are closer to succeeding than ever. On the other front, a citizen petition has arrived on the desk of the FDA asking that they consider putting sugar where marijuana currently sits.

“There is no currently accepted medical use for added sugar, as far as I am aware,” says the petition. “Added sugar—sugar that does not exist naturally and is added to foods or drinks upon preparation or processing—should be added to the DEA Drug Scheduling at either level I or II. The possibility of abuse, or addiction, is high for added sugar.”

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 13: A 32-ounce soda is filled at a Manhattan McDonalds on September 13, 2012 in New York City. In an effort to combat obesity, the New York City Board of Health voted to ban the sale of large sugary drinks. The controversial measure bars the sale of sugar drinks larger than 16 ounces at restaurants and concessions. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Whether you eat it or drink it, living in America makes it nearly impossible for the average person to avoid additive sugar. There are mountains of research supporting the fact that processed food—and the massive companies selling them around the world—profit from the addictive nature of sugar. While it’s hard to attribute fatalities to sugar specifically, the CDC puts obesity-related deaths between 112,000 and 365,000 a year.

It is highly unlikely that the FDA is going to budge on sugar. Snack lobbies in America are just too influential. There is a shockingly powerful lobby dedicated to frozen pizzas alone. A more likely scenario is that the people behind the petition are hoping the attention will lead to a class action suit against the larger snack food producers. 

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