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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release [print friendly page]
June 6, 2002


The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling on May 24, 2002, upholding DEA's determination that marijuana must remain a schedule I controlled substance. The Court of Appeals rejected an appeal filed by High Times Magazine and Jon Gettman, who contended that marijuana does not meet the legal criteria for classification in schedule I, the most restrictive schedule under the Controlled Substances Act.

DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson stated: "This is an important ruling because it leaves in place a sound decision made by DEA, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), that there is no basis to remove marijuana from schedule I. Current medical and scientific evidence continues to demonstrate that marijuana has a high potential for abuse and no safe and effective medical use."

Mr. Gettman petitioned DEA in 1995 to remove marijuana from schedule I. Under the Controlled Substances Act, schedule I substances must meet three strict criteria. These substances must have: no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse. Mr. Gettman and High Times Magazine sought through their petition to move marijuana to a schedule where it may be prescribed by physicians for medical use.

Administrator Hutchinson explained the importance of accurate drug scheduling: "Drugs sold lawfully in the United States are the safest in the world. This is because our nation, through its laws, insists on careful deliberation before allowing drugs to be sold as medicine. To date, marijuana does not meet the scientific requirements."

In accordance with Federal law, DEA referred the petition to the HHS for a scientific and medical evaluation. After conducting an extensive evaluation, the FDA advised DEA that current scientific and medical evidence demonstrates that marijuana continues to meet all three statutory criteria for placement in schedule I.

DEA agreed with the HHS's conclusions and denied the petition to reschedule marijuana saying that the evidence overwhelmingly leads to the conclusion that marijuana has a high potential for abuse. DEA's denial of the petition, along with the complete details of the medical and scientific findings made by DEA and the HHS, were published April 18, 2001, in the Federal Register (volume 66, page 20038).

Following DEA's denial of their petition, Mr. Gettman and High Times Magazine appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The D.C. Circuit rejected the appeal on May 24, 2002, holding that Mr. Gettman and High Times Magazine lack standing to appeal under the United States Constitution. The Court's ruling lets stand DEA's denial of the petition to reschedule marijuana.

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