Federal Court of Appeals Denies Petition to Reschedule Marijuana

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive 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.

    166 responses to “Federal Court of Appeals Denies Petition to Reschedule Marijuana”

    1. Dave says:

      God, the Democrats and Republicans have broken the Judicial branch.

      How about ordering some studies???

    2. James R says:

      IT IS TIME THAT THESE PILL PUSHERS QUIT RESTRICTING A PLANT TO FORCE THEIR PILLS DOWN PEOPLE’S THROATS. There is no currently accepted medical use for beer either, which also has a high potential for “abuse” so why is that not under their jurisdiction?

    3. Amaryllis says:

      Class action lawsuit against the govt for something? Re-petitioning? How did we end prohibition for Alcohol, rioting in the streets? No clue what to do next but I’m down for a multi-state-riot.

    4. george davis says:

      Are you fucking kidding me?

    5. TheOracle says:

      Who gives a fuck what the Supreme Court says! The American people will continue to ignore these apparatchiks. They are functionaries of the system, and will enforce cannabis prohibition.

    6. shedrick says:

      The war on weed continues…

    7. Matt says:

      Disappointing, to say the least. Regroup and keep fighting. It will be rescheduled, just a matter of time. I have a hunch that it will be rescheduled before the next Presidential election.

    8. KansasToker says:

      Wow. . . I am at a loss,I did not want to read this during my after work session.

    9. KansasToker says:

      strike that, I did not want to read this at anytime.

    10. Walt. C. says:

      Why does the US Government hold the patent #6630507 go have a read people

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