FDA considered state data in marijuana rescheduling, documents show

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The Food and Drug Administration considered data regarding marijuana’s medical value submitted by U.S. states with legal cannabis programs when determining how the drug should be federally classified, newly released documents suggest.

Until now, federal officials have revealed very little about the Drug Enforcement Administration’s review process in response to a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommendation in August that marijuana be moved from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3 under the Controlled Substances Act.

Not even the HHS’ exact recommendations to the DEA have been disclosed.

The DEA currently is considering points of law and policy in the rescheduling process that the Biden administration started in October 2022.

But a rare peek into the process surfaced last week when attorney Matt Zorn obtained and posted to Substack the heavily redacted internal documents.

The documents show that the U.S. government had “an interest in state data” that several state-level regulators submitted to federal officials over the summer, wrote attorney Shane Pennington, co-author with Zorn of the “On Drugs” newsletter.

At least five states sent information to the FDA and HHS about what cannabis products medical patients use and how marijuana treated their symptoms, MJBizDaily first reported in July.

Observers at the time considered the submissions potentially crucial, as relatively few such peer-reviewed studies typically weighed by federal health and science experts have studied state-legal marijuana products.

That “broader and more current data set” provided by states appears to have informed the HHS’ analysis of “the question of whether marijuana has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” Pennington wrote.

He added that the “FDA’s recent interest in state data combined with the extraordinary amount of attention it has given to addressing whether marijuana has a currently accepted medical use convinces me that it has likely concluded that the answer to that question is yes.”