Federal Court Denies DEA Request To Dismiss Marijuana Rescheduling Case

Scientists and veterans sued the federal agency in May

A federal appeals court has denied a request from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to dismiss a lawsuit challenging marijuana’s current classification under federal law.

Scientists and veterans sued the federal agency in May, arguing that the legal basis DEA has used to justify keeping cannabis in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional. They asked for a review of its decisions to reject rescheduling petitions in 2020, 2016 and 1992.

While DEA attempted to quash the suit by asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to dismiss the case, the judges said in a filing on Tuesday that the “government’s motion to dismiss this petition for review for failure to exhaust administrative remedies is denied without prejudice to renewing the arguments in the answering brief.”

Shane Pennington, an attorney representing the Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI) in the case, told Marijuana Moment that, given the court’s response, “we fully expect a 9th Circuit panel to consider our arguments on the merits.”

Petitioners have raised questions about DEA’s reliance on scheduling standards that they feel are arbitrary and misinterpret federal law. In particular, they are seeking reviews of the agency’s claims that marijuana must be strictly scheduled because, the government has claimed, it has no currently accepted medical value and has not been proven to be safe.

They also argue that another statutory policy DEA says necessitates marijuana being strictly controlled is unconstitutional.

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