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DEA Formally Cancels Hearing On Proposed Psychedelics Ban Amid Constitutional Challenge To Review Process

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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has formally canceled a scheduled Monday administrative hearing on its proposed ban of two psychedelic compounds as the constitutionality of the scheduling process is being challenged in federal court.

In a notice published in the Federal Register on Friday, DEA said that the hearing is being indefinitely postponed in light of an administrative law judge staying the proceeding in response to the court action.

“As the matter before DEA is currently stayed, no hearing will commence on June 10, 2024,” the notice says.

The purpose of the hearing was to allow the agency to receive expert input on its controversial plans to classify 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine (DOI) and 2,5-dimethoxy-4-chloroamphetamine (DOC) as Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The cancellation comes about a month after Panacea Plant Sciences (PPS) filed a complaint and request for injunctive relief against DEA in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

PPS is contesting the administrative hearing process that’s preceding final rulemaking, arguing that DEA’s reliance on administrative law judges to settle such arbitration is unconstitutional based on U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

“Panacea Plant Sciences is glad that the DEA has provided the public notice that the hearing is canceled. We expect to win in federal court and force the rule to be withdrawn,” CEO David Heldreth told Marijuana Moment on Friday. “We wish the DEA would do the scientific community and country a favor and withdraw the rule itself.”

The hearing has been stayed until the federal court renders a decision in the legal challenge to the administrative process. In the interim, Panacea and the Justice Department are required to submit joint status reports every 60 days until the case is resolved.

This is the latest development in a years-long dispute over DEA’s efforts to schedule the psychedelics, which it first attempted to do in 2022, only to withdraw the proposal amid pushback from the scientific community. The agency separately withdrew from a proposal to ban five different tryptamine psychedelics in 2022.

Last December, DEA announced that it would be trying to enact the DOC and DOI ban again. The agency’s notice about the scheduling proposal still lacks evidence that directly connects the compounds to serious adverse health events or demonstrated a high abuse potential.

“To date, there are no reports of distressing responses or death associated with DOI in medical literature,” it says. “The physiological dependence liability of DOI and DOC in animals and humans is not reported in scientific and medical literature.”

DEA said that anecdotal reports posted by people online signaled that the substances have hallucinogenic effects, making it “reasonable to assume that DOI and DOC have substantial capability to be a hazard to the health of the user and to the safety of the community.”

It did point to one report of a death of a person who had used DOC in combination with two other unspecified drugs—as well as two reports of hospitalizations that it said were attributable to the use of DOC with other drugs—but scientists say that hardly constitutes reason enough to place them in the most strictly controlled schedule.

In the background of this development, the Justice Department is now taking public comment on its proposal to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III under the CSA. It’s expected that an administrative hearing will be similarly scheduled once that’s complete. It’s unclear whether the ongoing litigation over that administrative process in the context of the psychedelics scheduling issue will come into play for the marijuana action.

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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