WASHINGTON -- Medical marijuana patients and advocates on Friday delivered a petition to Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, calling for the firing of DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg for his characterization that using the drug as medicine was "a joke."
Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, the marijuana advocacy group that started the petition, said that for his family and millions of others, the use of the plant for medical purposes is "no joke."
"It's simply unacceptable for the Obama administration's top drug official to make comments that are contrary to what science and doctors say about medical marijuana," Angell added.
The mass support of the petition emphasizes a wider, national acceptance of marijuana's legitimacy, one that runs contrary to the DEA's stance on the matter.
While more than half of the country supports the legalization of marijuana, the DEA classifies the substance as a "Schedule I" drug in terms of danger under the Controlled Substances Act, along with the likes of LSD, ecstasy and heroin.
The petition, which Marijuana Majority started two weeks ago, calls Rosenberg's comments "highly offensive."
Medical marijuana patients and supporters also spoke in front of the DEA about the ways using the drug medicinally has changed their lives.
T.J. Thompson, a U.S. Navy veteran, said medicinal marijuana quelled the suicidal thoughts and anxiety he was experiencing from post traumatic stress disorder after his service when no other drugs would.
"There is nothing funny about suicidal thoughts," Thompson said. "Using medical marijuana not only directly helps with my medical condition, but it has the added effect of making me a better father and husband."
On Thursday, seven members of Congress sent a letter asking Obama to fire Rosenberg for his statement.
"Through his statements, Mr. Rosenberg has demonstrated he is not the right person to hold the job as the head of the DEA and we urge you to find new leadership that can work to develop the right tools to properly rationalize our treatment of marijuana," said the letter, signed by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.).
Currently, 23 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.
The White House has not commented on Rosenberg's comments nor the petition.