Data Quality Act Petition: ‘I’m not dead yet.’

Yes, old timers. I’m talking about the Data Quality Act – the DQA – aka the IQA. Does it bring back memories? Are you feeling ancient right now?
Quick primer for the newbies:
The Data Quality Act was a regulation put into effect requiring government agencies to disseminate accurate and truthful information (really!), allowing groups or individuals to challenge that information, and requiring the agencies to respond in 60 days.
Well, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) decided to put that to the test. Health and Human Services had a lot of inaccurate information (OK, lies) about medical marijuana on their website and other materials. If corrected to the real truth about the medical validity of marijuana, it would actually make it much harder for the federal government to deny marijuana re-scheduling appeals (ie, if HHS has the truth on their website, then the DEA can’t point to HHS and say “see, there’s no accepted medical use for cannabis – HHS says so”).
So the petition went forward…

  • October 6, 2004: Original complaint filed (good, I thought — HHS will have to correct its information by the end of the year. Right.)
  • December 1, 2004. HHS says it needs more time. (Note: You can read all the letters here)
  • February 2, 2005. HHS says it needs more time.
  • April 5, 2005. HHS says it needs more time.
  • April 20, 2005. HHS claims that it doesn’t really need to respond.
  • May 19, 2005. ASA appeals the non-response.
  • July 28, 2005. HHS says it needs more time to respond to the appeal.
  • October 5, 2005. HHS says it needs more time.
  • December 8, 2005. HHS says it needs more time.
  • February 7, 2006. HHS says it needs more time.
  • April 12, 2006. HHS says it needs more time.
  • April 20, 2006. FDA comes out with its nonsense declaration about marijuana not being medicine.
  • May 2, 2006. ASA sends a letter threatening to sue if HHS continues to delay.
  • July 12, 2006. HHS denies the appeal (by avoiding the question)
  • February 21, 2007: ASA files lawsuit in district court.
  • May 25, 2007. Government files motion to dismiss claiming that the courts don’t have jurisdiction and that ASA doesn’t have standing.
  • June 21, 2007. ASA responds
  • November 20, 2007. District court dismisses ASA’s lawsuit, stating that HHS wasn’t really required to do anything.

and now…
ASA has filed an appeal in the 9th Circuit Court. This is from their opening brief.

The primary issue on appeal is whether the “Information Quality Act” … (“IQA,” also referred to as the Data Quality Act)… gave ASA a legal right to obtain a timely, substantive response to its IQA Petition, or whether, as the district court held, the IQA is merely horatory and that Congress intended to allow agencies to obey the IQA’s commands, or not, as they choose, free from all judicial review.

Good luck, ASA! I admire your perseverance.
One of the standard tactics of the federal government is to delay, delay, delay hoping you’ll tire or die before they have to do anything.
Of course, it would be foolish to depend only on the results of a drawn-out administrative procedure, but hitting them from all sides — that’s powerful. So, pursuing the DQA, pushing for re-scheduling, lobbying Congress, educating the people, correcting the media, writing letters in newspapers, committing acts of civil disobedience, demanding scientific truth, writing a blog — it all adds up to critical mass.

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