U.S. Court of Appeals to Hear Challenge to DEA Rejection of Medical Marijuana Rescheduling - October 16, 2012

California NORML Release 

Washington DC, Oct 16th - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments in a case challenging the Drug Enforcement Administration's rejection of a petition to remove marijuana from Schedule I, the most dangerous category of drugs for which no medical use is recognized.

The lawsuit, filed by Americans for Safe Access, stems from a rescheduling petition that was filed in 2002 by the Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis with participation from California NORML and NORML. The petition was rejected by the DEA in 2011 after applicants sued the agency for unreasonable regulatory delay.

In its decision, the DEA summarily discounted substantial scientific evidence showing that cannabis has medical efficacy. The agency has held that only expensive, "Phase 3" FDA efficacy studies are acceptable, while at the same making such studies impossible by blocking approval of the necessary research facilities.

Congress originally put marijuana in Schedule I when it passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, on the understanding that it would be rescheduled in light of the findings of the Presidential Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse. The Commission's advice was disregarded after it recommended that marijuana be entirely decriminalized.

NORML then filed a petition to reschedule marijuana for medical use in 1972. The petition was ultimately rejected in 1991, after the DEA overrode the determination of its own administrative law judge, Francis Young, that marijuana's medical benefits were "clear beyond question."

The CRC filed a new petition in 2002, arguing that marijuana's medical value had been proven by new evidence, as well as by the approval of medical cannabis laws in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, California established a $9 million medical marijuana research program at the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at U.C. San Diego. The program found marijuana to be effective in four out of four FDA-approved trials for neuropathic pain and multiple sclerosis.  The CMCR's director, Dr. Igor Grant, has called marijuana's Schedule I status "untenable."

"The DEA's obstruction of medical marijuana represents the worst kind of regulatory dysfunction by self-serving drug bureaucrats," comments Cal NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer. "The evidence is now overwhelming that marijuana can be an effective, affordable substitute for many more dangerous and costly, yet legal, prescription drugs. If the government can't get medical marijuana straight, how can we expect it to manage national health care?"

Release by Dale Gieringer, Cal NORML / CRC - www.canorml.org

Further info: The Cannabis Rescheduling Petition: An Introduction from DrugScience.org
Safe Access Now release
Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research

Dale Gieringer - dale@canorml.org
California NORML www.canorml.org
510-540-1066 / FAX 510-849-3974