Federal appeals court to DEA: Reconsider marijuana’s Schedule 1 status

A federal appeals court in New York told the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to “promptly” reconsider its classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug.

While it’s unclear whether the DEA will act, such a move could have a wide-ranging impact on medical cannabis businesses and research.

“I think you would see an increase in business activity. There’d be less fear and a loosening of restrictions,” said Jesse Mondry, a Portland, Oregon-based attorney with the Harris Bricken law firm.

Rescheduling would also open up research opportunities that could result in evidence that allows medical cannabis providers to substantiate their claims, Mondry said.

Plaintiffs in the case, including medical marijuana patients, told the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the DEA’s refusal to reschedule cannabis damaged their health and that the federal agency should remove cannabis from Schedule 1.

An earlier federal court, however, dismissed the case in 2017, asserting that the plaintiffs hadn’t yet exhausted all the administrative avenues to changing marijuana’s status. The plaintiffs appealed.

While the 2nd Circuit agreed with the previous court that not all administrative avenues had been exhausted, it noted that there was significant evidence showing marijuana relieved patient suffering and that the DEA had been “dilatory” in its consideration of cannabis’ status.

The judges also noted that reclassifying drugs through administrative paths takes nine years on average, an intolerably long time given that health and suffering are at issue.

“Plaintiffs should not be required to live indefinitely with uncertainty about their access to allegedly life-saving medication,” the judges wrote.

While the court said it would not at this juncture order the DEA to reconsider marijuana’s status, it said it would keep that option open if the court didn’t act promptly.

“We think it possible that future action by us may become appropriate here,” the court wrote. “Plaintiffs have not asked for – and we do not even consider issuing – a writ of mandamus to force the DEA to act.

“But we exercise our discretion to keep jurisdiction of the case in this panel, to take whatever action may become appropriate if Plaintiffs seek administrative review and the DEA fails to act promptly.”

6 comments on “Federal appeals court to DEA: Reconsider marijuana’s Schedule 1 status
  1. Elelo on

    DEA needs to spend more of our tax dollars combating opioids and quit spending our tax dollars on combating cannabis. There are now 11 state with legal cannabis. There has been no serious problems and states are benefiting from the revenue. I have been to several of these states and most people in the cannabis shops are actually affluent people.

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  2. Graham Hooper on

    How Many Deaths From Cannabis “Overdoses” or Over Use or From Actual Use ? Zero.0 yes None, but Alcohol,Asprin, Fentanyl, etc Many Deaths,

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  3. Dawn Foster on

    I am a United States Army Veteran M.P. of the Cold War. I have PTSD and RSD. I also worked as and Addictions and Family therapist for over ten years. I understand full well the pyscho/social aspects of Cannabis and it is for those very reasons that I choose to medicate with Cannabis.
    I have been a medical care holder for over 10 years. I hated the opiate medications that I became physically dependent on. Opiates caused multiple side effects and other symptoms that I found worse to deal with at times than the pain alone.
    I do not have the same issue with Cannabis. With Cannabis, I have control of my medication and I am the one who understands how much or how little to use. I choose the route of administration that works best for me and my body.
    Cannabis is in the Bible, and even if you are not a religious person, surely you can respect that in the over 2,000 years that this plant , Cannabis, has been in use, not one death has occurred from over dose. Not one life to suicide by Cannabis. Cannabis saves lives. It deserves to be removed from Schedule I.

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  4. K. Rizzotto on

    I experience chronic pain from a 36+ year-old spine injury. I also facilitate a chronic pain and illness support group, in the deep south. I can tell you that many members are conservative, christian, men and women. Several members are over 55 and most older than 70 years of age. They are curious about cannabis and would welcome this option to treat their tremendous discomfort. Stigma and current laws (state & federal) dissuade them. So, many are relegated to continue the use of much stronger, addictive and potentially lethal alternatives. I think it is imperative for the feds to reschedule cannabis allowing researchers to answer the many questions many of us have. Knowledge is power!

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  5. Jim M on

    President Trump must be urged to at least in the case of Veterans make medical marijuana okay by executive order. Use the Executive Order to remove medical marijuana from being listed as schedule 1. Veterans are forced to use opioids and some when those are removed end up on the street for heroin. This is a National Tragedy. Veterans volunteered to give their lives to protect our country and were given arms to do so. However, they if they use medical marijuana in a state where it is legal they forfeit their 2nd Amendment Right to Arms. Unable to own and use the arms they use to defend our nation to protect their families and in many cases themselves. Please understand opioids are bad and many hate using them but will suffer severely without. This must be changed for Veterans that deserve not to suffer and certainly not to lose their 2nd Amendment Right. Please make this right for Veterans as well as other forced to use much worse medications.

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