DEA argues allowing limited amounts of medical psilocybin could bolster illegal drug trade

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The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) suggests that allowing limited medical access to psilocybin for therapeutic purposes could bolster both the use and supply of illegal drugs.

The argument was made in an agency brief responding to a petition filed in a federal appeals court that argues for allowing therapeutic use of psilocybin. A medical institute, two cancer patients and a doctor argue that they should have access to psilocybin for their conditions.

But the DEA is asking the court to throw out the case. According to Marijuana Moment, counsel for the DEA contends the court lacks jurisdiction and the so-called Right to Try Act (RTT) would not cover illegal substances.

“The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) limits judicial review to DEA’s ‘final decisions,” the brief states. As a Schedule I substance under the CSA, psilocybin “has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision,” the DEA points out.

In its brief, the agency notes that RTT legislation “clears a new path for patients diagnosed with life-threatening conditions to gain access to certain drugs that have not yet been approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration.”

That said, “the law does not provide a right to use any specific treatment,” the agency states and does not exempt anyone from complying with the CSA.

Furthermore, the brief contends the petitioners in question are not seeking psilocybin for a life-threatening disease that would trigger “eligible patient” status under the Right to Try Act.” Rather, they are requesting it for depression and anxiety.

Citing an earlier court decision, the DEA notes that the persistent existence of the narcotics trade despite criminal enforcement efforts “suggests that no small number of unscrupulous people will make use of [RRT] exemptions to serve their commercial needs.”

If the petitioners’ request was granted, “DEA would be powerless to prevent an unscrupulous doctor from obtaining Schedule I substances from an unregistered manufacturer outside the CSA’s ‘closed system of distribution,’” it cautions.

The petition follows the doctor’s request this past January that the DEA offer some guidance on how to proceed with psilocybin treatments under RRT laws, Marijuana Moment reports.

In Canada, federal health minister Patty Hajdu has granted exemptions to Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for both patients and healthcare professionals to be able to use psilocybin to help treat end-of-life distress and other symptoms.

Last year, Oregon became the first U.S. state to legalize and regulate therapeutic psilocybin.

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