The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C. ruled today in favor of the DEA's decision to keep marijuana a Schedule I drug--a classification for substances that are highly addictive and have no widely accepted medical benefits.
"On the merits, the question before the court is not whether marijuana could have some medical benefits," reads the court's ruling in Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration. Rather, the court was tasked with deciding whether the DEA was following its own rules in refusing to initiate reschedule proceedings for marijuana.
According to the appeals court, the DEA was following its own rules (there are five in all) when it claimed that petitioners for rescheduling marijuana had failed to provide "adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy."
Americans for Safe Access in turn argued "that their petition to reschedule marijuana cites more than two hundred peer-reviewed published studies demonstrating marijuana’s efficacy for various medical uses, and that those studies were largely ignored by the [DEA]."
"At bottom," the court wrote, "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."
How much more rigorous? "The DEA interprets 'adequate and well-controlled studies' to mean studies similar to what the Food and Drug Administration requires for a New Drug Application."
The discussion of medical studies starts on page 21 of the brief. The entire ruling is attached below:
22nd January 2013.