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Marijuana won’t be reclassified as a less-dangerous drug, DC Court of Appeals rules

Posted Jan 22, 2013 4:17 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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Marijuana can remain a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found Tuesday, because there’s not enough relevant research of its medical use. The case was brought by three medical marijuana groups, including Americans for Safe Access, the Associated Press reports.

The question was not whether marijuana might have medical benefits, Judge Harry T. Edwards wrote for the panel, but whether the Drug Enforcement Agency’s decision to keep the substance as a Schedule 1 drug was “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedure Act.

The Controlled Substance Act includes a five-prong test regarding the DEA's scheduling of drugs, the opinion (PDF) notes. Part of the test mandates that there be well-controlled studies proving efficacy. The petition to reschedule marijuana cited peer-reviewed studies about its medical applications, which the DEA found was not enough.

“Contrary to what Petitioners suggest, something more than ‘peer-reviewed’ studies is required to satisfy the DEA’s standard, and for good reason,” the opinion states.

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