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Court rejects bid to have marijuana reclassified

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 22, 2013 at 1:07 pm •  Published: January 22, 2013
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DEA regulations define "currently accepted medical use" to require, among other things, "adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy."

Americans for Safe Access cited more than 200 peer-reviewed published studies demonstrating marijuana's efficacy for various medical uses, including a 1999 study by the respected Institute of Medicine, a government adviser on health issues.

"The IOM report does indeed suggest that marijuana might have medical benefits," the court conceded. "However, the DEA fairly construed this report as calling for 'more and better studies to determine potential medical applications of marijuana' and not as sufficient proof of medical efficacy itself."

Contrary to what Americans for Safe Access suggests, "something more than 'peer-reviewed' studies is required to satisfy DEA's standard, and for good reason," the court said.

Those challenging the government "have not pointed to 'adequate and well-controlled studies' confirming the efficacy of marijuana for medicinal uses," the court found.

Joe Elford, chief counsel with Americans for Safe Access, said that his group will likely file a petition for rehearing, and failing that, would seek a rehearing of the full appeals court. If that isn't successful, he said that the group would probably appeal to the Supreme Court.

Elford said that while he was disappointed by the ruling, he said it "lays the groundwork for future cases." He pointed to a line at the end of the opinion, which said that "adequate and well-controlled studies are wanting not because they have been foreclosed but because they have not been completed."

"I kind of take it as, 'Come back to us when those studies are completed if they actually demonstrate medical efficacy,' " Elford said.

The DEA referred questions to the Justice Department, which did not respond.

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