In December of 2023, Dr. Sunil Aggarwal of Advanced Integrative Medical Science Institute, filed a petition with the Ninth Circuit Court requesting a new order requiring the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) to refer his previously filed rescheduling petition to the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) for evaluation. Aggarwal’s rescheduling petition centered around the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms, psilocybin, requesting its rescheduling from Schedule I to Schedule II. The rehearing petition originated after the DEA denied Aggarwal’s initial petition to transfer psilocybin to Schedule II. It argues that the DEA failed to adequately provide reasoning for its denial and that the DEA should have consulted with the FDA and Department of Health and Human Services for its scientific and medical analysis on the potential medical uses and benefits of psilocybin.

 

Aggarwal argues that the court should have given specific instructions to the DEA to consult with the FDA, and that the DEA’s failure to do so was an “error of law”. While the court went as far as to say that the DEA’s two-paragraph denial of the rescheduling petition was contrary to the Controlled Substances Act, it declined to require a review by the FDA, which Aggarwal’s counsel characterized as out of step with precedent and public policy. Psilocybin has been legalized in Colorado and Oregon and decriminalized in over a dozen jurisdictions. Washington’s Governor signed an Act in May 2023 empowering a task force to study the benefits of and regulatory compliance with the use of psilocybin and New York lawmakers introduced a bill in the first days of 2024 to legalize natural psychedelics like psilocybin. Both Colorado and Oregon have introduced a regulatory structure to allow for the medicinal administration of psilocybin as a form of treatment for several ailments. Studies and trials have pointed to the efficacy of psilocybin in the treatment of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and more. The DEA may reevaluate Aggarwal’s rescheduling petition; however, for the time being, psilocybin will remain a Schedule I controlled substance. As changes are made at the state level and public opinion continues to shift in favor of legalizing psilocybin, it is only a matter of time before federal law catches up with public sentiment. Aggarwal’s petition is certainly a step in the right direction.

 

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