About That Dubious Claim That the DEA Is Rescheduling Cannabis

by Tobias Coughlin-Bogue Jul 5, 2016 at 3:03 pm


These do not cost $150, not even at fancy-ass Shutters on the Beach. Wine / Shutterstock

A few weeks ago, an article in the Santa Monica Observer set the weed internet ablaze with speculation after it claimed that an anonymous source within the DEA had confirmed the agency’s intent to move cannabis to Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act. Many pro-legalization blogs lapped it up, though others pointed out that the story’s sourcing was highly suspect.

The article was based on a single anonymous source: a DEA lawyer who apparently had a crisis of conscience when subjected to staff writer Stan Greene’s pointed inquiries, spilling the beans on the DEA’s real legalization plans. Although the claims were unverifiable, they certainly sparked a discussion, prompting even the DEA to weigh in. In an interview with aNewDomain, an actual DEA spokesperson, Russ Baer, said the DEA had no firm plans to reschedule and was pursuing further study before making a decision.

That didn’t stop Greene from doubling down yesterday with an article entitled “DEA Source Confirms Schedule II Medical Marijuana is in the Works.”

Stylistically, the article is perplexingly terrible, with phrases like “he walked off into the California sun, like so many lawmen before him” and “He’s a tall man, a tall blue eyed DEA lawyer. I’ll call him ‘Deep Throat.’” There are also laughable typos, such as “TBD oil” instead of “CBD oil,” that do not exactly evoke authority.

However, as comically bad as the article is, its claims are once again being taken seriously by the cannabis community. Although it’s not possible to confirm or deny the claims, there is one bit of information in the article that’s possible to fact-check.

The article is based on an lunch interview supposedly conducted at the high-end hotel Shutters on the Beach. In it, Greene claims to have bought his anonymous source a $150 glass of wine. Chardonnay, specifically.

But when I called the hotel, a customer service rep by the name of Dallas said none of their wines are priced that high.

“There’s nothing like that here,” he said. “We don’t have a $150 glass of wine.

After speaking to Dallas, I called the Santa Monica Observer to see if Greene had anything to say about this price conundrum. A rather gruff man who answered the phone informed me that “every journalist in the world is calling to speak to [Stan Greene]” and I wouldn’t be the one getting through.

I asked him about the price of the Chardonnay, to which he responded that, while they might not have a $150 glass of wine, Shutters is “the type of place where they have $800 bottles of wine.” We then entered into a bizarre and mercifully short debate about how many glasses were customarily poured from a bottle. After that futile exchange, I tried a different tack, simply asking him if the paper stood by Greene’s story.

“Yes, we do,” he said. I asked who I was speaking with, and he introduced himself only as Bill Lewis. His position, I asked?

I just answer the phones and I get this question all the time,” he said, oozing curmudgeonliness.

Unsatisfied with Lewis’ explanation, and skeptical of the idea that the Santa Monica Observer would expense an $800 bottle of wine (even more than the idea of a high-powered DEA lawyer drinking a white with his filet mignon), I called Shutters again. Obviously, I’d fallen all the way into the most frivolous of rabbit holes at this point, but hey, sometimes the only way out is through. And, I have to admit, I was strangely determined to get to the bottom of the $150 glass.

Nora, a front desk agent previously employed at Shutters’ restaurant, informed me that while there were some wildly expensive wines on their list, there were none that fit Greene’s description.

“Definitely reds,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Chardonnay for $800.” After a brief hold, she confirmed that the most expensive bottle of white on their menu was a $485 bottle of white Burgundy, which they definitely did not sell by the glass.

To me, it appears that Greene exaggerated the price of a bottle of wine to impress his readers. That, I think, tells us everything we need to know here.

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