DEA Schedules Hearing on Proposed Ban of Two Psychedelics

Researchers pushed back when the DEA banned two psychedelic substances in 2022, and now the agency has scheduled an administrative hearing to get additional feedback.

DoubleBlind Mag

Article by & Kyle Jaeger
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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled an administrative hearing to get additional feedback from experts about its renewed push to ban two psychedelics after abandoning its original scheduling proposal in 2022.

More than a year after DEA announced its intent 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 agency has agreed to hold a hearing before issuing a final rule.

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram signed off on the hearing notice on Thursday. It says that the agency’s administrative law judge will convene the meeting on June 10 at the request of three interested parties, including Panacea Plant Sciences, which had filed a motion contesting the proposed scheduling action last year.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled an administrative hearing to get additional feedback from experts about its renewed push to ban two psychedelics after abandoning its original scheduling proposal in 2022.

More than a year after DEA announced its intent 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 agency has agreed to hold a hearing before issuing a final rule.

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram signed off on the hearing notice on Thursday. It says that the agency’s administrative law judge will convene the meeting on June 10 at the request of three interested parties, including Panacea Plant Sciences, which had filed a motion contesting the proposed scheduling action last year.

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Panacea Plant Sciences founder and CEO David Heldreth told Marijuana Moment on Monday that the company is “prepared to fight the DEA attempt to schedule DOI & DOC.”

“Beyond the scheduling attempt, we believe the DEA administrative law judges and system are unconstitutional,” he said, arguing that there’s legal precedent based on prior Supreme Court rulings. “We expect to file federal challenges to the ALJ prior to the hearing.”

In its notice about the psychedelics ban last year, the DEA said its arguments about the merits of the scheduling action remained the same as in its prior abandoned ban attempt. It is maintained that DOI and DOC hold high abuse potential with no established medical value. But it also notably described a change in the process to request an administrative hearing, which left some with the impression that the agency was deliberately complicating the procedure in the face of likely challenges from the psychedelics research community.

But, ultimately, the DEA accepted the multiple requests for a hearing.

“Upon review of the requests for hearings, I have authorized a hearing and direct the Chief Administrative Law Judge to assign the matter to an Administrative Law Judge who will complete all prehearing procedures, conduct a due process hearing…and issue a recommended decision for the Agency’s review and action,” Milgram said.

A DEA spokesperson told Marijuana Moment on Monday that they expect the notice to be posted on the online docket on Tuesday.

DEA backed down off its original proposed ban of the psychedelics following challenges from Panacea and researchers from Emory University. It remains to be seen how the agency will navigate the scheduling issue following the hearing with experts.

DEA separately withdrew from a proposal to ban five different tryptamine psychedelics in 2022 amid sizable pushback from the research and advocacy communities.

For DOI and DOC, the agency’s 2023 notice about the scheduling proposal still lacks evidence that directly connects the compounds to serious adverse health events or demonstrates 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 the 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.

Meanwhile, the DEA is also under significant public and political pressure to complete its review into marijuana scheduling after the agency received a recommendation to move cannabis to Schedule III of the CSA from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

A DEA official recently said on a podcast that the agency wants to “correct misperceptions” that its drug scheduling review process is done in a “shroud of secrecy” as it works to reach a final decision. He also said it sometimes takes up to six months for the DEA to complete its analysis of health officials’ recommendations—which is just about how long it has now been since the agency began its current cannabis assessment.

Vice President Kamala Harris recently urged the DEA to finalize its cannabis review “as quickly as possible” and called it “absurd” and “patently unfair” that marijuana remains in Schedule I alongside drugs such as heroin.

President Joe Biden has also routinely touted his role in directing the marijuana scheduling review, including during his State of the Union address last month and in a new proclamation designating April as “Second Chances Month.”

*This story originally appeared on Marijuana Moment.

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DoubleBlind is a trusted resource for news, evidence-based education, and reporting on psychedelics. We work with leading medical professionals, scientific researchers, journalists, mycologists, indigenous stewards, and cultural pioneers. Read about our editorial policy and fact-checking process here.

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