Federal Court Rejects Marijuana Rescheduling; ASA Responds

A federal appeals court has refused to force the DEA to classify marijuana as having medicinal value. An appeal is forthcoming.

Court cites no significant studies issued in 13 years; ASA vows appeal

by Rick Thompson


On January 22nd a federal appeals court officially denied a petition to remove marijuana from a list of substances “with no accepted medical use.”

The petition had originally been filed in 2011 by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Patients Out Of Time and the Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis (CRC) on behalf of several named litigants. The DEA’s 2011 decision to reject reclassification was the basis for the appeal. Despite ASA’s listing of over 200 peer-reviewed and published studies on the efficacy of marijuana, the federal appeals court agreed with the DEA and asserted these studies did not constitute “sufficient proof of medical efficacy itself.”

A 1999 study by the government-affiliated Institute of Medicine stated that “marijuana might have medical benefits,” per the federal Court. In the 13 years since the Report’s release, the DEA claims the scientific community has not met the standard of producing “adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy…” as required by their regulations. Marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 drug in America and any studies must be done with the approval of the DEA, an agency prone to denying the scientific community’s requests.

This assessment of a lack of medical proof, based on a report by the Department of Health and Human Services, forced the court to conclude, “something more than ‘peer-reviewed’ studies is required to satisfy DEA’s standard…” Eighteen states, including California, Michigan, Washington and Colorado, have approved the use of medical marijuana for their citizens despite the DEA’s objections.

Schedule 1 is a DEA classification reserved for substances with the highest risk of abuse and no demonstrable medical use. Activists have been trying to either remove marijuana from the controlled substances listing completely or to reclassify it as a less dangerous drug- a listing that would allow the kind of scientific studies the DEA has blocked for well over a decade. ASA says the “research approval process for marijuana… is unique, overly rigorous, and hinders meaningful therapeutic research.”

The 2011 petition filed with the DEA came after a nearly decade-long stalemate. The CRC petitioned the DEA in October 2002 to reschedule cannabis as a Schedule III, IV, or V drug; it took the DEA until July 8, 2011, to reject the petition- and that was only after a lawsuit forced them to make a decision. In their written denial the DEA states there is “no currently accepted medical use for marijuana in the United States…”.

In a written statement, ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford vowed to appeal the decision. “To deny that sufficient evidence is lacking on the medical efficacy of marijuana is to ignore a mountain of well-documented studies that conclude otherwise,” he said in the ASA press release. That organization promises an “En Banc review by the full D.C. Circuit and, if necessary, the organization will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

This time the legal target will be a different “arbitrary and capricious” action- that of “using continually changing standards of “medical efficacy” in order to maintain marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance,” per their Release. ASA calls attention to a pending comprehensive public health bill and a national conference in Washington, D.C. in February as rallying points for further action.

ASA's Press Release from January 22, 2013: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/article.php?id=7474

Other articles of interest:

Three Blind Mice

"When we the people ask the Obama Administration why they will not reschedule marijuana, they point to science. When we challenge the scientists, they point to the DEA as a restrictor of access for experimentation. When we confront the DEA, they point to policymakers in Washington and the Department of Justice."- Rick Thompson

ASA Hearings in D.C.- An Update

"We remain hopeful that the science on medical marijuana will prevail over politics in order to overcome the decades-long effort by the federal government to keep marijuana out of the reach of millions of Americans who would benefit from its use."- ASA

Federal Sentencing of Legally Compliant Medical Marijuana Providers Highlights Harmful Obama Policy

"A federal lawsuit to force the DEA to reclassify marijuana for medical use will be heard by the D.C. Circuit on October 16th. The case Americans for Safe Access v. DEA is bringing the science of medical marijuana into federal court for the first time in nearly 20 years. If marijuana were reclassified, the five people being sentenced in Michigan would be entitled to a medical defense, a right they are now denied."- ASA

MMJ Advocates Invite Pat Kennedy to Better Understand Medical Marijuana

Superstring Theory Co-founder Asks Feds For Sound Science on Medical Marijuana



This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Sasha Romanski January 30, 2013 at 02:39 PM
So as long as the DEA continues to block efforts to study the plant, they can keep claiming there are 'no significant studies'. Sheesh! The DEA are not scientists and should have NO say in scheduling/classification. They don't want to admit wrongdoing. They block the truth. I can't believe time is still being wasted on this. If they could just shake the Reefer Madness lies and allow it for the entire country, there would be no market for the Mexicans to bring their crap over the border! Seems like they're clinging to the one plant that has killed no one over chasing meth labs, cocaine, heroin, pills, and bath salts. Those are the killers. It's not like they'd lose their jobs or private prison profits if they focused on those actual drugs instead of a plant. Hopefully, the US will somehow discover logic and start to reject the fear-mongering of zealots. Read about what's happening in Israel with the plant. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/02/world/middleeast/new-insights-on-marijuana-in-israel-where-its-illegal.html?_r=0
GP For Life January 30, 2013 at 08:55 PM
Legalize all drugs. I don't care. I can't help the person who thinks meth use is a good move, period. They're too dumb to help. It's best that they remove themself from the gene pool before they procreate. The "War on Drugs" is the biggest money-wasting losing battle, ever. Screw it.
Lianne Mathie January 30, 2013 at 10:30 PM
Totally agree with Sasha and GP on the biggest money wasting battle. I know several people with arthritis that would much rather have the edibles then take another addictive opiate.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »