D.C. Court of Appeals Rules on Research Delay



D.C. Court of AppealsOn Nov. 29, 2004, the Washington D.C. Court of Appeals denied a petition seeking to force the U.S. government to act on requests for specific medical marijuana research projects.

According to the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the lawsuits charged the federal government with:

"[U]nreasonably delaying two [medical marijuana] research projects.

The first suit, brought by the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies [MAPS], Prof. Lyle Craker of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Valerie Corral of the Wo/Men¹s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, charged the DEA with violating the federal Administrative Procedures Act by unduly delaying approval of an application to establish a medical marijuana production facility at U. Mass....

The second suit charges the DEA and NIDA with delaying applications for marijuana to be used in a vaporizer study sponsored by MAPS and California NORML. On June 24, 2003, an application was filed to the DEA requesting approval to import 10 grams of high-quality marijuana from the Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis. On the same day, an application was filed to NIDA for 10 grams of their marijuana, to be used for comparison purposes in the same study. Both applications have been held in regulatory limbo for over a year, even though the amounts involved were trivial and the research did not involve human subjects."
2004 MAPS

The court ruled:

  • Case No. 04-1246 - Amended Petition for review to compel agency Action unlawfully withheld or unreasonable delayed [regarding the import of marijuana from Dutch producers, and establishing a cultivation project at U. Mass]: "Denied without prejudice, to the extent it seeks to compel the DEA to act on the registration to import marijuana, because the petitioners have not shown that the DEA's delay in acting on the application has been so unreasonable as to warrant mandamus [a writ of mandate which orders a public agency or governmental body to perform an act required by law when it has neglected or refused to do so].

    To the extent that the petition seeks to compel the DEA to act on the application for registration to manufacture marijuana [at U. Mass. Amherst], DEA is DIRECTED to file a response to the mandamus petition (not to exceed 30 pages) within 30 days of this order..."
    Nov. 22, 2004 U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

  • Case No. 04-1247 Petition for review to compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed [regarding the purchase of marijuana from the U.S. government's (NIDA) marijuana farm at the Univ. of Mississippi]: "Denied without prejudice because petitioners have not shown that the DHHS delay in acting on the research protocol and application to purchase marijuana is so unreasonable as to warrant mandamus."
    Nov. 22, 2004 U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

The petitioners (California NORML and MAPS) reported on Nov. 29, 2004:

  • "On the same day [Nov. 29, 2004] that [U.S.] Supreme Court Justice Breyer suggested that medical marijuana patients should be made to wait for FDA approval, the DC Federal Court of Appeals empowered the federal government to further delay such research. The court denied a lawsuit by MAPS to expedite DEA approval of two 17-month-old applications for access to less than one ounce of marijuana for research in MMJ vaporizer studies co-sponsored by Cal NORML and MAPS.

    The court did give a slight nudge to the DEA to pass judgment on a three-year old application by the University of Massachusetts to establish a medical MJ research farm."
    Nov. 29, 2004 CalNORML

  • "MAP"S lawyer's assessment: The decision is very particular about the applications delayed... Unfortunately, 17 months delay to the court (unlike patients needing pain relief) is no biggie, so we lose on compelling action on the application to HHS/NIDA to purchase 10 grams for research and on the application to DEA to import 10 grams. The 3 1/2 year delay in DEA non-resopnse to the UMass Amherst application for a license to grow marijuana for research trips the further inquiry wire at DEA, however, so there is a chance for some oversite.

    Reconsideration (of the outright denials) must be filed within 14 days [5 pm, Dec. 6, 2004], which we will file."
    Nov. 29, 2004 MAPS