I recently wrote about Carl Olsen’s motion to intervene in the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) Petition for Writ of Mandamus. A petition for writ of mandamus is a petition to compel an agency to do something. In this case, the CRC is trying to compel the DEA to respond to their nine year old petition to remove marijuana from Schedule I.
As I wrote previously:
The short of it is this: the CRC is sick of waiting on the DEA to respond to their petition to remove marijuana from schedule I. They’ve filed a motion in court, demanding the DEA respond to their nine year old petition. They expect the DEA to reject the petition based on a 2006 recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services that marijuana remain in Schedule I. From what I understand, the CRC would then appeal the decision.
Olsen contends that the DEA needs an updated recommendation from the DHHS. Marijuana is medicine. Science has advanced since 2006.
Olsen, a former member of the CRC, said this about his motion today:
“I want the court to order the DEA to respond, but not on the condition that the DEA deny the petition so the petitioners can appeal it. I want a specific order telling the DEA to get a new opinion from the DHHS. I think the court should give the DEA and the DHHS a set time to do that so we know when it will be.”
Today, the court gave the DEA 30 days to respond, and petitioners 15 days to respond starting with the day the DEA responds. The court told petitioners to follow the factors set out in Telecommunications Research & Action Center v. FCC, 750 F.2d 70, 80 (D.C. Cir. 1984) when they respond to the DEA’s argument. In the Telecommunications case, the court, noting that “the standard is hardly ironclad,” set out the following factors in determining whether an agency has unreasonably delayed an action:
(1) the time agencies take to make decisions must be governed by a “rule of reason,”
(2) where Congress has provided a timetable or other indication of the speed with which it expects the agency to proceed in the enabling statute, that statutory scheme may supply content for this rule of reason,
(3) delays that might be reasonable in the sphere of economic regulation are less tolerable when human health and welfare are at stake;
(4) the court should consider the effect of expediting delayed action on agency activities of a higher or competing priority,
(5) the court should also take into account the nature and extent of the interests prejudiced by delay,
(6) the court need not “find any impropriety lurking behind agency lassitude in order to hold that agency action is ‘unreasonably delayed.’
It will be interesting to see what the court ends up ruling here. The DEA’s reefer madness is coming to an end, one step at a time.
ASA backgrounder on rescheduling: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Rescheduling_Backgrounder.pdf
CRC rescheduling petition: http://www.drugscience.org/PDF/Petition_Final_2002.pdf
2006 HHS recommendation: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/HHS_Rescheduling_Recommendation.pdf
2010 DEA Position on Marijuana: http://www.justice.gov/dea/marijuana_position_july10.pdf