Federal court rejects DEA request to drop cannabis rescheduling case


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) doesn’t seem to be budging on the reclassification of cannabis; it wants to keep the plant bound by Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. 

However, the Administration is not getting its way this time around, with a recent DEA request to dismiss a classification contention lawsuit being overthrown by a federal appeals court. 

This means that there’s a good chance that cannabis could now rise above federal law and claim the glory it so rightly deserves.

Back in May, a group of scientists and veterans initiated a lawsuit against the DEA, claiming that the plant’s Schedule I restrictions were unconstitutional. Those defendants wanted to gain clarity as to why the DEA had declined rescheduling petitions in 1992, 2016 and once again this year.

Despite the DEA’s efforts to have the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rescind the rescheduling case, 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.” 

This is according to a filing from the judges on Tuesday, August 18.

Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI) anticipates a positive outcome

An attorney providing representation for the Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI) in the case who goes by the name of Shane Pennington recently spoke to Marijuana Moment. Pennington stated that they “fully expect a 9th Circuit panel to consider our arguments on the merits.”

The DEA’s dependency on scheduling standards has been a cause for concern in the past, with petitioners claiming they are arbitrary and misinterpret federal law. Specifically, the plaintiffs are seeking out a way of determining why the agency believes the cannabis plant deserves such strict scheduling.

Previously, the DEA has stated that cannabis can only be placed in Schedule I or II. According to a statement from the plaintiffs, this is “an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority” that essentially “violates core separation of powers principles.”

Defendants previously took DEA to court for cannabis industry limitations

The SRI made the cannabis industry news headlines in the past for filing a lawsuit against the Justice Department that put pressure on them to expose a “secret” memo that was delaying the DEA in processing applications. Arizona-based SRI also sued the DEA for suffocating the expansion of cannabis research.

Moreover, the DEA recently received an order from a bipartisan group of lawmakers to “expeditiously” finalize rules that will allow more growers to gain licensing for research purposes.