DEA Psilocybin Rescheduling Denial Overruled By Federal Appeals Court
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in a psilocybin rescheduling lawsuit. Washington State physician Dr. Sunil Aggarwal filed the petition to secure psilocybin access for terminally ill cancer patients.
Aggarwal, who has been striving for legal psilocybin since 2020, initially sought approvals under right-to-try laws. His journey experienced a setback when the DEA rejected his request, leading him to pursue a formal rescheduling petition. The DEA’s denial came in September 2022, citing the absence of FDA-confirmed “accepted medical use” for psilocybin.
Ninth Circuit’s Critique Of DEA’s Decision
However, the Ninth Circuit highlighted the DEA’s insufficient analysis in its denial. The court criticized the agency for not defining “currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions,” which is crucial for transferring a substance from Schedule I to II.
The court mandated the DEA to provide a comprehensive justification or reassess Aggarwal’s petition.
Implications Of The Ruling
While the ruling does not alter psilocybin’s legal status, it keeps Aggarwal’s rescheduling petition afloat, according to Marijuana Moment. The DEA must now reevaluate or elucidate its decision pathway. Notably, the court chose to return the petition to the DEA, not the FDA as Aggarwal’s lawyers advocated.
Legal Developments And Ongoing Research
Matthew Zorn, Aggarwal’s attorney, said the legal team is contemplating their next steps. Kathryn Tucker, another attorney on the case, highlighted the rapidity of the court’s decision, indicating possible impatience with the DEA’s slow proceedings.
In the meantime, studies continue affirming psilocybin’s medicinal potential:
- Research from Johns Hopkins and Ohio State Universities found psilocybin linked to a substantial reduction in depression, anxiety and alcohol misuse
- The American Medical Association reported a relief in symptoms of major depression following a single psilocybin dose
- At the federal level, the National Institute on Drug Abuse is actively seeking research proposals on psychedelics’ therapeutic applications, allocating $1.5 million for such studies