Appeals Court To Review DEA’s Dismissal Of Cannabis Rescheduling Petition

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 10, 2012

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear opening arguments next week in a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s refusal to consider reclassifying cannabis as a schedule I prohibited substance under federal law.

    At issue in the case is whether the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) acted appropriately when the agency last year denied an administrative petition – initially filed by a coalition of public interest organizations, including NORML, in 2002 – that called on the agency to initiate hearings to reassess the present classification of cannabis.

    Under federal law, schedule I substances must possess three specific criteria: “a high potential for abuse;” “no currently accepted medical use in treatment;” and “a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug … under medical supervision.” In its 2011 denial of petitioners’ rescheduling request, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart alleged that cannabis possesses all three criteria, claiming: “[T]here are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving (marijuana’s) efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts. … At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.”

    By contrast, a recent scientific review of clinical trials evaluating the safety and efficacy of cannabis concluded, “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.”

    Commenting on the upcoming hearing in a press release, Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA) said: “Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court. What’s at stake in this case is nothing less than our country’s scientific integrity and the imminent needs of millions of patients.” Elford will be arguing the case before the D.C. Circuit. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Tuesday, October 16th.

    NORML previously filed a similar rescheduling petition with the DEA in 1972, but was not granted a federal hearing on the issue until 1986. In 1988, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young ruled that marijuana did not meet the legal criteria of a Schedule I prohibited drug and should be reclassified. Then-DEA Administrator John Lawn rejected Young’s determination, a decision the D.C. Court of Appeals eventually affirmed in 1994.

    A subsequent petition was filed by former NORML Director Jon Gettman in 1995, but was rejected by the DEA in 2001.

    Further information on the lawsuit is available at: http://safeaccessnow.org. Additional information on the 2002 petition to reschedule cannabis is available at: http://www.drugscience.org/.

    57 responses to “Appeals Court To Review DEA’s Dismissal Of Cannabis Rescheduling Petition”

    1. Brian Cole says:

      Well, if pharma didnt own our government, this may work. However, considering that tobacco and alcohol create life long customers to the pharmaceutical industry, they will remain legal, and cannabis, which TREATS illnesses, will remain prohibited. Pharma is in the business of making money, not curing people. A cured individual no longer needs treatment, and pharma says that is unacceptable. Your life, your health, and your future belong to Merck, Pfizer, and the other big pharma giants.

      Bankers may have ruined the economy, but pharma is an even more insidious criminal. Look at it like this…corporations are people now. Pharma is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people a year. Where is the accountability? Why is pharma not facing charges for the irresponsible deaths of all these people? Because pharma rules our world. Point blank, the big pharmaceutical companies are your masters, with the power to kill you with no fear of any repurcussions…we are all guinea pigs and always will be. Therefore, the non-toxic, beneficial, and completely safe natural remedy known as cannabis is bad…for business.

      While cannabis may not be right for everyone, and may not treat every illness and condition…it is enough of a cure allthat pharma is TERRIFIED at the prospects of people being able to access cannabis.

    2. Elaine says:

      It would be impossible for the DEA to prove that cannabis belongs in schedule 1. The only way that anyone could come that conclusion is to buy into the lies and propaganda the DEA has been spreading. If the Appeals Court is worth even existing, it will conclude that cannabis has medical properties and is very safe. It can be abused by some people, as can almost anything, but saying it high potential for abuse is just stupid since millions use it without any problem; assuming law enforcement doesn’t catch them.

    3. Galileo Galilei says:

      What’s on trial here is science itself. My Representative in the US Congress responded to my letter requesting he help halt the Federal government’s war on medical marijuana by citing irreproducible studies over 30 years old. It took me 2 minutes to find a 21st century metastudy that easily refuted his claims. My Representative in the US Congress is a physician. Think about it.

    4. St. Nick says:

      This is what I’m talking about! We need to put these DEA shit heads on trial! LEGALIZE POT! LEGALIZE POT! Stay positive!

    5. Fergi says:

      the DEA sickens me. They have absolutely no foundation as they were built on sand.

    6. Galileo Galilei says:

      To thwart the advance of medical science is a crime against us all.

    7. Chris in WI says:

      Well we know justice is blind. We have to see if it’s blind in favor of the truth or blinded by the politics of this issue.

    8. The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record. Francis L. Young concludes is his Two Year Study – Findings of Fact – that the Administrator transfer marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 being that Marijuana is one of the Safest Therapeutically Active Substances Known to Man. Chief DEA Law Admin Judge’s ruling also corresponds with the United States Federal Gov’t patent #6630507’s detailed official report of Marijuana’s therapeutic benefits.

    9. John K. says:

      Brian Cole, well said, brother.

      I guess it’s ok to have a meningitis outbreak, they did this on purpose btw. But hey, “Marijuana is bad for you” quoted from head of dea.

      Time to stomp and stop the Bad & Corrupted.

      Marijuana should not be under any class’s of illegalization’s.