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Marijuana's Schedule I Designation Upheld by DC Circuit

Marijuana's Schedule I Designation Upheld by DC Circuit

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Published by FindLaw
The DEA has long designated marijuana as a Schedule I drug, the most-restrictive category. It found that pot "has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States."

Advocates of looser federal restrictions on marijuana suffered a major legal setback Tuesday, when a panel of three judges found that the federal government acted properly in refusing to loosen restrictions on pot.

Pro-marijuana groups and a disabled veteran who said it improves his medical condition argued the agency was ignoring a growing body of scientific evidence that it has some medical benefits. When the DEA refused, they sued.

But by a 2-1 vote, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the DEA did consider all the available information.
The DEA has long designated marijuana as a Schedule I drug, the most-restrictive category. It found that pot "has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States."

Advocates of looser federal restrictions on marijuana suffered a major legal setback Tuesday, when a panel of three judges found that the federal government acted properly in refusing to loosen restrictions on pot.

Pro-marijuana groups and a disabled veteran who said it improves his medical condition argued the agency was ignoring a growing body of scientific evidence that it has some medical benefits. When the DEA refused, they sued.

But by a 2-1 vote, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the DEA did consider all the available information.

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: FindLaw on Jan 23, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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United States Court of Appeals
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
 Argued October 16, 2012 Decided January 22, 2013No. 11-1265A
MERICANS FOR
S
AFE
A
CCESS
,
ET AL
.,P
ETITIONERS
 v.D
RUG
E
NFORCEMENT
A
DMINISTRATION
,R
ESPONDENT
 C
ARL
E
RIC
O
LSEN
,I
NTERVENOR
 On Petition for Review of a Final Order of theUnited States Drug Enforcement Administration
 Joseph D. Elford 
argued the cause and filed the briefs forpetitioners.
Carl E. Olsen
, pro se, filed briefs for intervenor.
 Lena Watkins
, Senior Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, argued the cause for respondent. With her on thebriefs were
 Lanny A. Breuer 
, Assistant Attorney General, and
 Anita J. Gay
, Senior Trial Attorney.Before: H
ENDERSON
and G
ARLAND
,
Circuit Judges
, andE
DWARDS
,
Senior Circuit Judge
.
USCA Case #11-1265 Document #1416392 Filed: 01/22/2013 Page 1 of 45
 
2Opinion for the Court filed by
Senior Circuit Judge
 E
DWARDS
.Dissenting opinion filed by
Circuit Judge
H
ENDERSON
.E
DWARDS
,
Senior Circuit Judge
: There is a seriousdebate in the United States over the efficacy of marijuana formedicinal uses. Although marijuana has been legalized in anumber of states, it is classified as a
Schedule I
drug by theDrug Enforcement Administration
(“
DEA
), pursuant to itsauthority under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970
(“
CSA
or
Act
). The DEA has maintained this listingbecause it has determined that marijuana
has no currentlyaccepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
21U.S.C. § 812(b)(1)(B). Because Schedule I is the mostrestricted drug classification under the CSA, the production,sale, and use of marijuana are largely banned by federal law.Petitioners in this case
 – 
Americans for Safe Access, theCoalition to Reschedule Cannabis, Patients Out of Time, andseveral individuals
 – 
challenge DEA
s denial of its petition toinitiate proceedings to reschedule marijuana.The CSA permits the DEA to reclassify drugs to lessrestrictive schedules according to various statutory criteria,and interested parties can petition the DEA for such action.
See
21 U.S.C. §§ 811, 812. In October 2002, the Coalition toReschedule Cannabis petitioned the DEA to reschedulemarijuana as a Schedule III, IV, or V drug.
See
Denial of Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana
(“
 Denial
”)
, 76 Fed. Reg. 40,552, 40,552 (July 8, 2011). TheDEA denied the petition on July 8, 2011, finding that
[t]hereis no currently accepted medical use for marijuana in theUnited States,
and that
[t]he limited existing clinicalevidence is not adequate to warrant rescheduling of marijuanaunder the CSA.
 
 Id.
at 40,552, 40,567. On July 22, 2011,
USCA Case #11-1265 Document #1416392 Filed: 01/22/2013 Page 2 of 45
 
3Petitioners filed a timely petition for review of the DEAaction.Petitioners claim that
[n]umerous peer-reviewedscientific studies demonstrate that marijuana is effective intreating various medical conditions, but the DEA simplyignores them to conclude that marijuana should remain in
Schedule I.”
Pet
’r 
s
Br. at 20. Petitioners thus contend that theDEA
s denial of their petition was arbitrary and capriciousand ask this court to remand the case to the agency for furtherconsideration.The Government, in turn, argues that we should dismissthe petition for review on jurisdictional grounds becausePetitioners and Intervenor lack Article III standing. TheGovernment also asserts that, even if the court determines thatPetitioners or Intervenor have standing, the petition for reviewshould be denied on the merits. According to the Government,
in the record reviewed by the DEA, “
there was no availableevidence of adequate, well-controlled studies demonstratingmarijuana
s safety and effectiveness as a medicine and noconsensus among experts as to these issues. The enactment of state laws allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposesdid not constitute the required science-based evidence.
Br.for
Resp’t
at 23.We deny the Government
s jurisdictional challengebecause we find that at least one of the named Petitioners,Michael Krawitz, has standing to challenge the agency
saction. Krawitz, who is a disabled veteran, is entitled tomedical care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
(“
VA
). Krawitz has suffered injury-in-fact because he mustshoulder a financial cost for services he could otherwiseobtain free of charge from the VA. There is a causalconnection between the DEA
s continuing decision to classify
USCA Case #11-1265 Document #1416392 Filed: 01/22/2013 Page 3 of 45

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Ellie K added this note
This was decided in January 2013. Is marijuana a Schedule 1 substance now? Regulations for prescribers and dispensers are at the state level, but the narcotics schedule is federal. Can state rules be inconsistent with federal laws?
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