Lawsuit to move marijuana off the Schedule 1 list
Drugs classified as Schedule 1 under the Controlled Substances Act meet these criteria:
- The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
- The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
- There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.
Cocaine, for example, is not a Schedule 1 drug, since it has medical use. Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, though it does not meet category 3 (no deaths due to drug overdose have ever been reported—unlike, say, alcohol, which routinely causes deaths from overdose in, for example, fraternity hazings.
Now a lawsuit has been brought to remove marijuana from the Schedule 1 list, as reported by Steven Wishnia on Alternet:
Once again, medical-marijuana advocates are taking to the courts to eliminate the biggest barrier to legal use—the federal law that classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug with no valid medical use.
On Oct. 16, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the federal appeals court that usually handles cases involving government regulations, will hear oral arguments on Americans for Safe Access v. DEA. It will be the first time in almost 20 years that federal courts have considered the science of medical marijuana, says ASA spokesperson Kris Hermes.
Specifically, ASA, a California-based patient-advocacy group, is trying to get the Drug Enforcement Administration to move marijuana out of Schedule I, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970’s category for drugs with “a high potential for abuse,” “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” and no “accepted level of safety for use under medical supervision.” Heroin, LSD, and PCP are also in Schedule I. Cocaine, methamphetamine, and OxyContin are in Schedule II, legal for medical use but strongly restricted.
Two previous attempts to get the DEA to reschedule marijuana failed, but advocates believe there is enough new evidence to convince the courts. “There’s simply more science now,” says ASA chief counsel Joseph D. Elford. Since 2000, says Dr. Igor Grant of the University of California at San Diego’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, the center has done six studies that showed “efficacy for marijuana over a placebo” in relieving pain caused by peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage).
This current attempt began in 2002, when a coalition of medical-marijuana and legalization advocates filed a petition with the DEA. It contended that cannabis “has an accepted medical use in the United States, is safe for use under medical supervision, has an abuse potential lower than Schedule I or II drugs, and has a dependence liability that is also lower than Schedule I or II drugs.” It requested that marijuana be moved to Schedule III (Vicodin, acetaminophen with codeine), Schedule IV (Valium, Xanax), or Schedule V (codeine cough syrup).
“Based on evidence currently available, the Schedule I classification is not tenable,” Dr. Grant wrote in the 2012 issue of the Open Neurology Journal. “It is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking. It is true cannabis has some abuse potential, but its profile more closely resembles drugs in Schedule III.”
The DEA rejected the petition in June 2011. Administrator Michelle Leonhart declared that marijuana had no accepted medical use, because no form of it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The Department of Health and Human Services had previously concurred that it had a high potential for abuse, because an estimated more than 14 million people get high illegally at least once a month.
“They only responded to the petition after we filed a lawsuit alleging unreasonable delay,” says Elford. “Delay, delay, and then delay some more. The government doesn’t want to take on whether marijuana has medical use.”
The DEA refused to comment on the lawsuit. It referred calls to the Justice Department, which did not return phone calls. . .
Continue reading. The DEA and DOJ are not acting in good faith.