HHS’ Pot Position Violates Government-Wide Quality Standards, Lawsuit Charges

Agency’s statements regarding medical cannabis fail to meet federal standards for “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity”

Washington, DC: Information disseminated by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pertaining to the medical use of marijuana fails to meet federal standards for “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity,” and must be amended, according to a petition filed on Monday by the organization Americans for Safe Access (ASA).

If the petition is successful, HHS would be compelled to amend its position that marijuana “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

ASA’s petition charges that HHS is in violation of the Data Quality Act, a federal law requiring government agencies to employ sound science when making regulations and disseminating information. Specifically, the petition states that the agency’s 2001 rejection of an administrative petition to reschedule marijuana violated both government-wide data quality standards and HHS’ own guidelines assuring the proper implementation of those standards.

“The conclusion of HHS that ‘marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States’ lacks objectivity, utility, transparency, peer review, and public participation,” states ASA’s Request for Correction. “Thus, HHS has failed to ensure that the information it disseminates is based on sound science, as required by law.”

Federal law mandates that HHS must respond to ASA’s petition within two months.

ASA’s petition is separate from an administrative petition filed in 2002 with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on behalf of a coalition of health and drug law reform organizations seeking to reclassify marijuana so that doctors may legally prescribe it. In August, the DEA responded to the petition by ordering HHS to conduct a scientific and medical evaluation to review marijuana’s present scheduling under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Under federal law, the DEA is required to submit the rescheduling petition to HHS for review if it finds that petitioners have presented scientific evidence of marijuana’s therapeutic value that has not been examined in any prior rescheduling proceeding.

For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or visit:

For more information on marijuana rescheduling, please visit: