The skirmish continues between the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the legal team representing terminally ill patients petitioning for access to psilocybin-assisted therapy. In late September, the DEA denied an official petition requesting that the agency look into rescheduling psilocybin from Schedule I to Schedule II. This week, lawyers filed a request to review that decision.
Some background: Since 2021, AIMS Institute’s Sunil Aggarwal and his patients have been seeking guidance from the DEA about how to access psilocybin through federal Right to Try laws. Because psilocybin is a Schedule I drug, it’s not easily obtainable and is illegal to use outside of research. Aggarwal’s team hoped the DEA might grant them an exemption to administer the substance in treatment. Their case went to the 9th Circuit Court but was dismissed because the court had no jurisdiction to rule. In an effort to find another way to access the drug, Aggarwal’s team sent a formal petition to the DEA requesting that it review psilocybin’s scheduling.
In its denial letter, the DEA said that a prerequisite to rescheduling a drug is a determination from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that a drug has “currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” “To date, the FDA has not articulated any accepted medical use for psilocybin in treatment,” the letter said, so the Controlled Substances Act requires the drug to remain in Schedule I. “We believe our chances of success on the appeal of the rescheduling denial are strong,” Kathryn Tucker, an attorney working on the case, said in an email announcing the team’s appeal.