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DEA Renews Efforts to Ban Psychedelics Despite Backlash in 2022

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Last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) suggested that DOC and DOI be classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in its latest notice. DOC (2,5-dimethoxy-4-chloroamphetamine) and DOI (2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine) are both psychedelic drugs of the amphetamine and phenethylamine chemical classes.

In its latest notice, the DEA stated that the medical and scientific basis for suggesting the ban was that these hallucinogens had no known medical value and a high potential for abuse. This is despite the fact that the agency possesses no evidence demonstrating a high abuse potential or directly linking the compounds to severe health events.

In its notice, which was published in the federal register, the DEA explained that until now, there had been no reports of distressing responses or death linked to DOI in medical literature and noted that the physiological dependence liability of DOC and DOI in humans and animals wasn’t reported in medical and scientific literature.

The agency then added that anecdotal reports posted by individuals online indicated that the compounds had hallucinogenic effects, which made it reasonable to assume that they had significant capability to be a hazard to the safety of the community and the health of users.

This is not the first time the agency has recommended a ban on these drugs either, having tabled a proposal in 2022 for the same action. However, in its new proposal, the administrative process of appealing for a hearing to challenge the laws or facts that govern the scheduling action has been amended.

The proposal also states that the decision on whether hearings will be held to address such matters shall be made by the administrator. This addition points to the agency making it harder for outside parties to contest the proposal.

Last year, the matter was contested by researchers who requested a hearing on the scheduling ban, with Panacea Plant Sciences also filing a motion disputing the change in policy.

Despite the new changes, the psychedelic research and development company is sounding the alarm once more. The company’s CEO and founder, David Heldreth, stated in an interview that the response to its rally to fight the illogical rule by the DEA had been amazing. He revealed that the psychedelic community from scientists and lawyers to community activists as well as individuals had come together to oppose the agency’s prohibition mindset.

Thus far, Heldreth noted, Panacea had touched base with at least 10 groups that wanted to support or be involved in the legal fight against the agency’s attempt to criminalize DOC and DOI. These compounds, he argued, were intrinsically important to scientists and the scientific study of the body and mind.

For companies that have firsthand experience of the challenges associated with studying Schedule 1 substances, such as Compass Pathways PLC (NASDAQ: CMPS), the DEA’s plan to ban additional psychedelics brings a bitter taste to the mouth because it means these companies will have to go through endless hoops to gain authorization to conduct studies involving those compounds.

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