Americans for Safe Access, et al v. DEA, No. 11-1265 (D.C. Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
The DEA, under the authority of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, 21 U.S.C. 812(b)(1)(B), classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug, the most restricted drug classification under the Act. Petitioners challenged the DEA's denial of its petition to initiate proceedings to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule III, IV, or V drug. The principal issue on appeal was whether the DEA's decision was arbitrary and capricious. First, the court denied the Government's jurisdictional challenge because the court found that at least one of the named petitioners had standing to challenge the agency's action. On the merits, the court held that the DEA's denial of the rescheduling petition survived review under the deferential arbitrary and capricious standard where the petition asked the DEA to reclassify marijuana, which, under the terms of the Act, required a "currently accepted medical use." A "currently accepted medical use" required, inter alia, "adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy." The court deferred to the agency's interpretation of these regulations and found that substantial evidence supported the agency's determination that such studies did not exist. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review.