Federal Court of Appeals Denies Petition to Reschedule Marijuana

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director January 22, 2013

    In a 28-page decision, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has denied petitioners request to overturn the July 2011 denial by the Drug Enforcement Administration to initiate proceedings to reschedule marijuana under federal law.

    In October 2002, the Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis, a coalition of reform organizations including NORML, ASA, Patients Out of Time and High Times, among others, petitioned the DEA to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule III, IV, or V drug. Following years of administrative delay, on July 8, 2011, the DEA denied the petition, finding that “[t]here is no currently accepted medical use for marijuana in the United States,” and that “[t]he limited existing clinical evidence is not adequate to warrant rescheduling of marijuana under the CSA.”

    Petitioners then sought review in the federal Court of Appeals, alleging the decision by the DEA was arbitrary and capricious when it concluded that marijuana lacks a “currently accepted medical use” and has a “high potential for abuse.” They ask this court to remand the case to the DEA for reconsideration of its decision.

    Written by Senior Circuit Judge Edwards, the decision ruled “On the record before us, we hold that the DEA’s denial of the rescheduling petition survives review under the deferential arbitrary and capricious standard. The petition asks the DEA to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III, IV, or V drug, which, under the terms of the CSA, requires a ‘currently accepted medical use.’ The DEA’s regulations, which we approved in Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics v. DEA, 15 F.3d 1131 (D.C. Cir. 1994), define ‘currently accepted medical use’ to require, inter alia, ‘adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy.’ Id. at1135. We defer to the agency’s interpretation of these regulations and find that substantial evidence supports its determination that such studies do not exist.

    “In its scientific and medical evaluation,” the court held, “DHHS concluded that marijuana lacks a currently accepted medical use in the United States. In reaching this conclusion, DHHS applied the DEA’s established five-prong test, which requires a known and reproducible drug chemistry, adequate safety studies, adequate and well-controlled studies demonstrating efficacy, acceptance of the drug by qualified experts, and widely available scientific evidence.”

    “We will not disturb the decision of an agency that has ‘examine[d] the relevant data and articulate[d] a satisfactory explanation for its action including a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.’”

    In this case, we need only look at one factor, the existence of “adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy,” to resolve Petitioners’ claim.

    At bottom, the parties’ dispute in this case turns on the agency’s interpretation of its own regulations. Petitioners construe “adequate and well-controlled studies” to mean peer-reviewed, published studies suggesting marijuana’s medical efficacy. The DEA, in contrast, interprets that factor to require something more scientifically rigorous.

    In making this assessment, we must “remind ourselves that our role in the Congressional scheme is not to give an independent judgment of our own, but rather to determine whether the expert agency entrusted with regulatory responsibility has taken an irrational or arbitrary view of the evidence assembled before it.

    The DEA’s construction of its regulation is eminently reasonable. Therefore, we are obliged to defer to the agency’s interpretation of “adequate and well-controlled studies.” Judged against the DEA’s standard, we find nothing in the record that could move us to conclude that the agency failed to prove by substantial evidence that such studies confirming marijuana’s medical efficacy do not exist.”

    Petitioners are considering their legal options at this time.

    165 Responses to “Federal Court of Appeals Denies Petition to Reschedule Marijuana”

    1. Jeedi says:

      The government does not care about the people. They only care about their agenda toward a uniform police state, one world government. Just like they are trying to demonize, criminalize, the gun people, despite what a majority of Americans want, they are hitting back at marijuana. And don’t expect these one world government stooges to allow states like CO and WA to get out of line. I really think the reason that we have not heard anything is that THEY are looking for a way to scare the little people. Thanks to this gun grab, more and more Americans are waking up to an unreasonable government that is ignoring the will of the people.

    2. charlie soroka says:

      I believe at the end of the day, judicially is the way this gets done. Why? The Prez, Congress, DEA, nor FDA dont have the balls to do it, so I believe the Supreme Court is the best chance. It has been my belief all along that if it is reformed significantly, it will be imposed judicially.

    3. Dave says:

      No folks, the circle breaks in court. The judges can order studies. Also, plenty of studies have already been done. The case needs to be refiled. It is like the DEA is claiming there isn’t “enough” evidence the sky is sometimes blue; they just checked and its gray and raining somewhere all the time.

      We just need to take them at their “expert point of view”. Whatever they are on, it is a lot stronger than herb. All we want is for them to actually follow the law.

    4. “The DEA’s construction of its regulation is eminently reasonable.”

      In other words, keep chasing your tail, it’s so adorable to watch!

      They know they’re being obstructionists. Give up the idea that “they’re not listening.”

      What they’re doing is stalling; they live in a house of cards and they’ve always known it. They’re whistling past the graveyard; it’s not that they don’t hear the barbarians at the gate, it’s that they want us to go knock on the DEA/DHHS’ gate instead.

      Mark my words, we’re winning.

    5. Also, I forgot to mention —

      Lest you believe they don’t know it’s a farce, consider this: they’re insisting that we prove a negative. They didn’t have to prove that it was harmful in the first place, that literature doesn’t exist in any credible form. They want us to first prove that it’s not harmful, then prove that it’s beneficial. We have to use all the evidence in the world, they don’t have to show one whit.

      Anyone who hasn’t seen American Drug War make haste, it’s available for free on You Tube. That should clear up any frustration about why they’re so impossibly dense.

    6. Gone2PotLESSness says:

      Schedule 1 = Catch 22

      Politically motivated,
      not scientifically valid classification…!!!

      – – – – – – –

      The government should have NO authority to
      place bans / prohibitions on ANY plant species,
      (except locally, in regard to specific ecosystem-disrupting invasive concerns,
      but NOT regionally, nationally / internationally, against a specific plant “per se”
      as with present “War On, (some), Drugs” botanical-genocide campaigns),
      the against raw products of ANY plant species,
      such as foliage, flowers, seeds, stems or roots of said plant.

    7. Isaac Stafford says:

      The government holds a patent which describes effective use of cannabinoids and there helpfulness in treatment.

    8. Joe says:

      Cannabis is schedule I because there is no acceptable medical use because there are no acceptable studies proving it is effective because it is schedule I and study is not allowed.

      Acceptable medical use can only be judged by the DEA which does not practice medicine and is does not use any drug for any medical use.

      Acceptable medical use is not determined by physicians who have widely found it useful.

      This drug remains Schedule I because the DEA has been delegated the power to say it is. The only way this will change is if the Congress and president direct otherwise.

    9. nick1 says:

      Wow… Not cool with this. How the hell did the DEA articulate their position?

      Their isn’t any medical use?? BITCH YOU MUST BE KIDDING!

      Hopefully one day, soon, this will change.

    10. Lex says:

      In one ear right out the other those morons. We’re on the right track to free the weed. Keep doing like we’re doing and like Sam Cooke said a ‘change is going to come’.

    11. david allen says:

      hiding the truth and claiming it is not there is grounds for revolution of the people against the government that denies reality.

    12. Chris says:


    13. Roy says:

      Very Disappointing

    14. StinkyMink says:

      To John…
      They already have it in pillform over at Solvay Pharmaceuticals who curiously enough were given permission by someone to take THC and synthesize it…its called MARINOL. So, lets reflect, the FDA approved something whose main active ingredient happens to be THC the same thing that keeps the plant on the Schedule 1 drug list. But in Marinol you get gunk and patients have ditched it in record numbers.
      What a joke. They just dont want you growing your own medication for FREE. Thats all this is about, the Big Pharma LOBBYISTS have it locked down.

    15. Lunashe says:

      It’s back to the same ol game of petitioning & conducting new advanced studies on the benifits of Marijuana for medical & spiritual needs as well as social(public speaking, music & art). More hard work. Its’s all been done & we’ll do it again folks. We will continue on to enlighten these spiritually ill & greedy people who seek to control it for themselves.

    16. JG says:

      Big Pharma’s greed and the government control is at the forefront of this issue. People understand that Bayer owns the patent on this wonder drug in the form of phytochemicals(cannabidiol and other cannabinoids)The only path will be through governmental healthcares prescription plan. Sorry to wake you all up.

    17. Jarrod Langley says:

      Its just the first step of many. You didnt think they were going to give up so easy did you? DEA makes a lot of money off of Cannabis. We just have to not give up! Just keep trying keep voting! Keep writing and emailing your local Rep. Senator and City Officials! We will win the people always do just takes effort!

    18. somedood says:

      Some Dark and Evil entity is behind this.

    19. wes says:

      after this, someone with deep pockets should sue the FDA and pharmacy company’s.

      if it has no medical benefit, then how can it be Man-Made and used for anything?

      looks to me like they are trafficking in a schedule 1 drug.

      manufacturing a schedule 1 drug.

      maintaining a dwelling for a schedule 1 drug.

      using a schedule 1 drug on the population,
      that is highly addictive, and has NO found medical benefit.

      100k to anyone that has been prescribed this drug, or to family members if they have passed.

      win it and all the cancer sufferers will get big bucks.

      lose it and it must have some medical value.

    20. bobie says:

      “Political sociopaths with no conscience, probably attend church regularly”.

      This is why it wont change

    21. Miles says:

      The people responsible for this decision cannot pull their collectives heads of of their (you know whats). God Damn Them All!!!

    22. Jordan says:

      Lets just keep spamming them with petitions.

    23. dax says:

      don’t worry folks when Government finally collapses and the so called supreme court and dem and gop have no job we can do what ever the fuck we want…the o mighty dollar is almost worth nothing :) and our so called elected officials and appointed people wont work for free;p

    24. Neal22504 says:

      This shits so outta hand I wanna throw up. Good thing I have some weed to smoke. Hey a medical use to my stomach turning from reading that garbage. So you the American public are all living under rocks. Nah just the ppl against this a wonder drug.. imagine what would come out if they did conduct studies. Oh they are and still do. Whatever they can go Fuck themselves I do not think this will continue much longer. But then again its been 40 years..

    25. marty says:

      Well, they just dont listen or care do they. We are certainly long overdue for equality. Its time to make them responsible for what they created almost a hundred years ago. I have proposed to NORML a hunger strike that i am willing to do, but id like to see who, if any really care this much to make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and to show them we are beyond all seriousness. please comment on my idea of doing a hunger strike and if u do support this, email everyone at NORML for them to be in contact with me.

    26. William says:

      and this surprises who

    27. bd boyer says:

      Probation did not work with alcohol and look at the mayhem that is responsible for. The needed potential tax revenues that are being left on the table and the expense of the failed war on drugs is not responsible government. Where is the representation of the will of “We the People”, no polls that I have seen demonstrate that the majority of citizens support the continued prohibition.

    28. Galileo Galilei says:

      What they don’t tell you is that the necessary research is purposely stymied to prevent the accurate determination of the plant’s efficacy. Marijuana has been used for decades against the agony of chemotherapy, yet somehow the studies just never get done to provide a firm scientific footing.

      The spin is masterful. Now it’s ’eminently reasonable’ for marijuana to be on schedule 1.

    29. Galileo says:

      The facts are the facts:
      The earth is running out of resources.
      Plants are our best hope for a stable earth
      Marijuana is the most evolved influential plant on the earth
      We could replace 5000+ products with hemp and marijuana because of the renew-ability factor of the plants and cycling the CO2 more efficiently.
      Our planet doesn’t need the emissions from cows and cars (18% + 13% = 31%damage).
      Humans eat some of the worse food on the planet due to lack of education and commercialism.
      Many Cancers are caused by poor diet, hemp seeds could replace meat and save us and the earth.
      Pharmaceutical industry and poor diet are the two leading causes of death in this country possibly world.
      Marijuana kills 0 people, since idk forever…and if you did die from a marijuana overdose you probably would go down as a legendary human being.
      Our brains are designed to take natural occurring substances like marijuana and improve our bodies by placing thc and cbds in receptors that require there use.

    30. Galileo says:

      If we boycott the lobbyists products that are saying no to our way of life…we will change there tune….I am not a vegan….but soon I may be because of the severity of the situation…..meat, drugs, and alcohol….are the reasons it is still illegal….so remember that next time buying a drink, eating a steak, or taking Tylenol.

    31. Anonymous says:

      But the basis of the original argument, to deem it is a Schedule I drug, are all based on lies.

    32. Fireweed says:

      if they can’t turn it into an unnatural and toxic product they can’t market it as a pharmaceutical. W

    33. Judy says:

      I can hardly believe that these Judges are going to go with what the DEA has to say about marijuana!

      The Idiots!!! It is so obvious that the DEA wants to keep marijuana illegal for their own greedy purposes that only a complete idiot can’t see through their BS!!!

    34. What do you know about this experimental stem cell research having fantastic results yet NOT approved by the FDA forcing heart patients to go to the Bahamas for treatment ~ An 80 year old man we knew had the heart of a 20 year old in a few short months
      ! ~ We heard the FDA knows but doesn’t want to upset all the Doctors and drug systems now being used! ~ Sounds like the Cannabis cover-up all over again! ~

    35. shawn christopher says:

      of course they did….and that’s why WE THE PEOPLE have to vote for cannabis regulation and taxation. the government will never do it, the harder they push, the harder we have to push back. the same as the end of alcohol prohibition. nothing is playing out differently

    36. Jack says:

      corrupt pieces of shit

    37. Anonymous says:

      This is not simply about whether or not marijuana has scientifically based medicinal value, the real issue is about my inalienable right to choose my medicine or my poison, if you will, without the mother fuckin’ federal government telling me what I can and can’t put into my body. There are literally millions of deaths each year as a result of taking pharmaceutical drugs. Why doesn’t the mother fuckin’ federal government crack down on that?

    38. We the People says:

      When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce [American Citizens] under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security…Such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter [the present] systems of government. The [recent] history of the [U.S. Federal Government] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over [We the people of these United States.] Whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government. [We have reached that point. Who has the courage to stand?]

    39. eric says:

      I doubt anyone wil read this that matters but the solution is in their own judgement.
      They say the are upholding the DEAs findings that there is ” it concluded that marijuana lacks a “currently accepted medical use” and has a “high potential for abuse.”

      Well let the DEA show their studies that helped them conclude this. They MUST have had a study to say that this is true.right?
      I dont think they have one. So make them prove the possible potential for abuse. They wont be able to and so the ruling can be changed

    40. Bummer Oklajoma says:

      Follow the money and we see their reasoning

    41. Bren says:

      American government greed will be the cause of its downfall!!!

    42. marty says:

      I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about marijuana/hemp. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men, including marijuana/hemp smokers/producers, are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.

      Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free and smoke marijuana as well as produce and provide hemp. And when Americans are sent to Iraq or Afghanistan, our marijuana/hemp supporting soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors in all parts of the world they are meeting freedom’s challenge on the firing line, and I salute them for their honor and their courage.

      It ought to be possible, therefore, for the American marijuana smoker to attend any public institution of higher learning they select without prejudice because they have a marijuana criminal record.

      It ought to be possible for American marijuana smoker to register and to vote in a free election without interference because they have a marijuana criminal record.

      It ought to be possible, in short, for every American marijuana/hemp supporter to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his indulgence in marijuana/hemp. In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. But this is not the case.

      Difficulties over marijuana/hemp discrimination exist in every city, in every State of the Union, producing in many cities a rising tide of discontent that threatens the public safety. Nor is this a partisan issue. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party, politics, or if they smoke marijuana or grow hemp/marijuana. This is not even a legal or legislative issue alone. It is better to settle these matters in the courts than on the streets, and new marijuana laws are needed at every level, but law alone cannot make men see right.

      We are confronted primarily with a moral issue of legalizing marijuana/hemp. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution. The heart of the question is whether all Americans marijuana smokers and hemp supporters are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow American marijuana smoker as we want to be treated.

      We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it, and we cherish our freedom here at home, but are we to say to the world, and much more importantly, to each other that this is a land of the free; that we have no second-class citizens except marijuana smokers/hemp supporters; that we have no class or caste system, no ghettoes, no master race except with respect to marijuana smokers/hemp supporters?

      Now the time has come for this Nation to fulfill its promise. The events in America and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality for marijuana smokers that no city or State or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.

      The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, North and South, East and West, where legal remedies are not at hand. Redress is sought in the streets, in demonstrations, parades, and protests which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives. We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and as a people about legalizing marijuana/hemp. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is a time to act in the Congress, in your State and local legislative body and, above all, in all of our daily lives. It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the fact that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that marijuana/hemp revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all.

      Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality.

      This is one country. It has become one country because all of us and all the people who came here had an equal chance to develop their talents.

      We cannot say to large percent of the population that you can’t have that right; that the only way that they are going to get their rights is to go into the streets and demonstrate. I think we owe marijuana smokers/hemp supporters and we owe ourselves a better country than that. We have a right to expect that the marijuana smoking/hemp supporting community will be responsible, will uphold the law, but they have a right to expect that the law will be fair, that the Constitution will be marijuana/hemp blind.


    43. warren says:

      My heros. The fuderal fud-de-duds.Out of touch geezers.

    44. […] Federal Court of Appeals Denies Petition to Reschedule Marijuana In a 28-page decision, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has denied petitioners request to overturn the July 2011 denial by the Drug Enforcement Administration to initiate proceedings to reschedule marijuana under federal law. In October 2002, the Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis, a coalition of reform organizations including NORML, ASA, Patients Out of Time and High Times, among others, petitioned the DEA to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule III, IV, or V drug. Following years of administrative delay, on July 8, 2011, the DEA denied […] […]

    45. Druk says:

      So are the people working at the DHHA less ridiculous than those at the DEA? Because this decision makes it sound like if we could work on getting the DHHA to make a finding that marijuana has an acceptable medical use, we can force the DEA to reschedule.

    46. wbs 101 says:

      Forget the petitions it is clear they are not listening. It is time for protests. Lets get a million tokers in front of the White House, Congress, DEA headquarters, NIDA, and any other place that is trying to stop us. We should take a note from the Occupy people and overload any buildings open to the public owned by these entities. People have made clear their wishes and the federal thugs are ignoring the will of the people it is time for FULL ON PROTEST!

    47. somedood says:

      Also For all the people who think it is about the government agencies having the balls to do it… I’ve been waiting 40 years and if you can’t build up the balls in that time then it is something else.

    48. Druk says:

      To follow up on my previous comment with quotes from the DHHA website:

      “reports found that there are too few scientific studies to determine marijuana’s therapeutic utility”

      “Approval for the use of marijuana, or perhaps more importantly purified compounds based upon the chemicals found in marijuana, as therapeutic agents must show substantial evidence of effectiveness and show the product is safe under the conditions of use in the proposed labeling. Safe, in this context, means that the benefits of the drug appear to outweigh its risks.”


      So basically, that’s where work needs to be done to convince the DHHA to recommend rescheduling marijuana. Even then, though, it sounds like they might only ever OK synthetic forms of the drug because of safety concerns.

    49. Rickyj says:

      The govt wants to ban guns so when they make irresponsible decisions people cannot stand up for their rights. Screw the govt lackeys all the way up

    50. mark b. says:

      Once again we get RAILROADED!!!!!!!!!!!! Our bastasrd Congress is holding us hostage!!!!! Undo this strangle hold Now!!!!!!! This is obvious Stonewalling the tax paying voters. We need to take back our country.
      F— them all!!!!!!

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