Will the DEA finally Reschedule Marijuana from Class I ?
The battle of marijuana being declassified as a Schedule I drug may have its final day in court.
U.S. veteran and medical doctor Sue Sisley from the Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI) of Arizona, in partnership with other veterans, has recently filed a case against the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). They claim that the current legal statute against the legalization of cannabis is faulty, citing a mistake made in legislation over a quarter of a century ago.
Since 1992, the DEA has used a 5-part test to determine whether any substance can be considered for “acceptable use in medical treatment” in the U.S. This test examines:
- The knowledge and reproducibility of the drug
- The presence of adequate safety studies
- The presence of well-controlled studies proving efficacy
- Is the drug accepted by experts?
- Is the scientific evidence widely available?
An Outdated Law
Sisley’s lawsuit challenges this test, saying it is based on “flawed and outdated case law.” She is requesting the court set aside this outdated mandate and seeks “a review of DEA’s final determination that marijuana must be placed in either Schedule I or II” of the Controlled Substances Act.
Sisley’s lawyer, Matt Zorn, further argues that much more is known today about marijuana and the cannabis plant, and therefore the current law as it stands is grossly outdated and does not take into account the many ways in which cannabis has been used medically over the last 25 years.
Essentially, the lawsuit is “about challenging the rule the DEA uses to evaluate rescheduling petitions.” Zorn also notes that countries like Canada, which has legalized cannabis, have found avenues around this dilemma.
This is not Sisley’s first bout with the Feds. Over the years, her groundbreaking clinical trials have revealed the potential benefits of cannabis use on veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She has made headlines with this research, while also publicly calling out the federal government for their low-quality, poor potency of U.S.-government grown cannabis. This is the only federally-approved cannabis that can be legally researched by scientists for any study under the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA.)
An Unfortunate Catch 22
In order for cannabis to move out of Schedule I drug status, more research must be done on its effects, which include clinical trials. But in order to do that, Schedule I drugs must be used – something the law in its current state has forbidden.
Sisley’s lawsuit cites that for over 25 years, the DEA has applied incorrect legal standards in determining whether a drug has an ‘accepted medical use’ under the Controlled Substances Act. As far back as 1970, the government has classified marijuana as a Class I drug, with a high potential for abuse, and no accepted medical use.
As such, this creates a classic ‘catch 22’ scenario, and prevents any real clinical trials from being conducted, simply due to the fact that it is a Schedule I drug, and therefore cannot legally be used for research to make the case for removing it from Class I status.
This unfortunately creates a legal barrier, and an erroneous one, according to Sisley and her team, to cannabis efficacy research. Their strategy is to conduct clinical trials on the whole cannabis flower for the most well-rounded research.
Sisley and Zorn’s opening brief is scheduled for August.