Are DEA Administrative Law Judges Unconstitutional?

Inept efforts by the DEA to assign two psychedelic drugs to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act have backfired thanks to a granted request for a restraining order that stalls the scheduling process for 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine (DOI) and 2,5-dimethoxy-4-chloroamphetamine (DOC).

In addition to the scheduling controversy, DEA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Paul E. Soeffing has cordially acknowledged a challenge to the legal authority of his court in a constitutional test of the ALJ process itself. The lawsuit filed by Panacea Plant Sciences, Inc. (PPS), a company researching DOI/DOC and related compounds, argues that DEA ALJs lack the legal authority to override a President’s implementation of policies encouraging research on medicinal applications of psychedelic drugs:

On April 8, 2024, PPS filed a motion in the DEA ALJ proceedings to request: a) the ALJ/judge to issue an injunction against the DEA to stop the rule-making due to errors/violations under the Administrative Procedure Act, Regulatory Flexibility Act and Tribal Consultation Executive Orders, b) a stay of the proceedings and halt to all Drug Enforcement Administration activity on rulemaking regarding DOI and DOC … and c) an impending challenge to the constitutionality of the DEA ALJ process. […]

9. The hearing and scheduling poses a significant threat to the company. PPS conducts research and development on medical technologies which include the use of DOI or DOC for development and as products themselves. Currently, DOI and DOC are not controlled.

10. Under the Controlled Substances Act and its implementing regulations, PPS will be required to turn over to law enforcement or destroy our stock of DOI and DOC which means the rule-making acts as an effective taking of property.

11. As a result, when PPS received the hearing notice from DEA, it was faced with a stark choice: either default and lose automatically or defend itself against the DEA’s attempts to schedule DOI and DOC and its use of an ALJ-overseen adjudication. PPS is thus compelled to participate in the DEA’s adjudicatory proceedings. […]

12. That does not mean the ALJ proceedings should go forward. Under binding precedent, those proceedings violate Article II of the Constitution of the United States. As the Fifth Circuit held in Jarkesy v. SEC, 34 F.4th 446 (5th Cir. 2022), the two-layer, for-cause removal restrictions applicable to ALJs impermissibly impair the President’s constitutional charge to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. The same restrictions on for-cause removal at issue in Jarkesy are at issue here. Specifically, Sections 7521(a) and 1202(d) of Title 5 of the United States Code prevent the President and Attorney General from removing DEA ALJs unconditionally. Rather, ALJs may be removed only for “good cause” as “determined” by the Merit Systems Protection Board (“MSPB”), whose members themselves can be removed by the President only on certain limited “good cause” grounds. This degree of insulation is unconstitutional. Indeed, because DEA ALJs do not satisfy either narrow recognized exception to the President’s unrestricted removal power, any degree of insulation is unconstitutional.

13. The DEA’s scheduling hearings has stakes that extend beyond PPS. DOI and DOC are widely used in research and development for pharmaceutical drugs related to the mind and other bodily systems. They are also key compounds for the research into schizophrenia and other related illnesses. Removing access to these compounds through legal channels and/or making their access more difficult would severely limit science and reduce the reproducibility of experiments and ability to compare to past research. This would lead to reduced development of new treatments and less understanding of medical conditions, which could lead to increased deaths and suffering in the United States and beyond over time. In addition, the unconstitutional taking of property by the government without access to an Article III court would set an illegal, and dangerous precedent. […]

Should Panacea Plant Sciences’ lawsuit prevail we could finally see an end to the offices or functions of the DEA Administrative Law Judge as well as any further DEA interference in the drug scheduling process. We might even see the beginnings of an American judicial system which recognizes that science-based remedies save the sick, not words.

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6 Responses to Are DEA Administrative Law Judges Unconstitutional?

  1. Perry M Parks, III (CW4, US Army Retired) says:

    I am a disabled veteran and I use cannabis to address the symptoms of this condition. I have no relief from the law making cannabis a controlled substance.

    Because it has relieved my symptoms much better that the drug cocktails previously prescribed to me by the VA, I have elected to continue using cannabis in contravention to the legal status of cannabis.

    Were it not adversely scheduled into a prohibited category by the DEA based on outright lies, I would not find myself in a criminalized situation. I spent 30 months flying helicopters in Republic of Vietnam. I deserve to choose my medical treatment, given the acceptance in 39 states of which NC chose not to do.

  2. Son of Sam Walton says:

    Yes to No depending on how the issue came about. If an elected rep or group of reps pressure the DOJ/DEA to do something, then it becomes constitutional—like if the Rep gives the DEA permission to place the new Square Peg into the ‘pre-fabricated/ready-to order/tailored to your needs’ square whole worth of paper-work of already signed/framed documents by our Reps. BUT, if the DEA does this without guidance or pre-packaged guidance, then it violates the Constitution. The real KICKER, is how many times they move—alter the law. Reps might only pressure them to do XYZ only, but said new job/freedoms might create new problems/opportunities for them, thus they will be tempted to add a second law or a stipulation to an existing law without the authority or pre-packaged guidance of our Reps. Because Washington gave them boxes of unused square and maybe triangle sized holes, meaning the DEA cannot ‘lawfully’ place the round or rectangular pegs inside of them.

    You can also shut down the DEA in another way and then one can determine if they went rogue:

    Federal Judges and Federal Prosecutors made precise decisions to give no bankers any incentive to quit laundering drug money to America’s enemies and the Cartels. If the DEA are not actively attacking the banks who by September 2020 held enough data to yearly brag of what they ‘profit’ by and how much they ‘launder’, then it looks like the DEA are deciding to enforce the laws they only want to enforce, instead of enforcing every law they are required to enforce. Corruption looks like this. Corruption unchecked—unstopped at every level makes more and more DEA officials/judges/agents more compliant with the corruption (not a few bad apples, but the whole batch goes bad) . . . this makes the DEA training facilities and their teachers/drill instructors also responsible, since they rotate after so many years, thus, logically—legally speaking, the DEA would be totally rogue and operating under no real U.S. guidance, just as ‘Highwaymen’ attacking the IRS. When the guy who had only been an agent for two years didn’t arrest his buddy agent of five years because that agent refused to arrest his superior in the Dallas Division, because the Dallas boss refused to go after the head of the DEA/DEA Judges who refused to go after the Bankers and the Fed Prosecutors and Fed Judges who have told the Bankers time and time again, “Boys will be, hmmm, I mean, Bankers will be Bankers.”. The fact not a single one has reduced laundered money that directly affected the American border and America’s wars, they are complicit . . . why pay them for a Full Day’s worth of work (salary), when at the end of the year, they didn’t make a difference, one way or the other—decade after decade? This is also called Fraud.

    FRAUD, would also make it illegal for them to administer any laws, let alone be paid in Taxes.

  3. Servetus says:

    A therapeutic drug combination reduces methamphetamine use for an extended period of time:

    10-JUN-2024 — A clinical trial on a two-drug therapy for methamphetamine use disorder reduced use of the highly addictive drug for up to 12 weeks after initiation of treatment, UCLA-led research suggests.

    Participants in the ADAPT-2 clinical trial who received a combination of injectable naltrexone plus extended-release oral bupropion (NTX+BUPN) had a 27% increase in methamphetamine-negative urine tests, indicating reduced usage. By contrast, the placebo group had an 11% increase in negative tests. […]

    Methamphetamine use has continued growing over the years around the world, increasing from 33 million people in 2010 to 34 million in 2020. Overdose deaths from the drug have jumped fivefold in the US from 2012 to 2018, and are followed by Canada and Australia in increases. […]

    “Prior stimulant use disorder treatment trials suggest that change in use is gradual (consistent with our findings), unlikely to result in sustained abstinence in a typical 12-week trial, and dependent on treatment duration,” they write. “This warrants future clinical trials to quantify changes in MA use beyond 12 weeks and to identify the optimal duration of treatment with this medication.” […]

    AAAS Public Science News Release: Clinical trial shows promising results in a two-drug combination that curbs methamphetamine use

    Addiction: Extended observation of reduced methamphetamine use with combined naltrexone plus bupropion in the ADAPT-2 trial

    Study authors are Michael Li, Brendon Chau, Thomas Belin, and Steven Shoptaw of UCLA, and Thomas Carmody, Manish Jha, Elise Marino, and Dr. Madhukar Trivedi of the University of Texas.

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