Article by Keegan Hamilton, Vice News
The attorney general and DEA have the final say on rescheduling, but the FDA offered its official stance on the issue at least eight months ago, according to the agencies’ joint letter to members Congress, which said the DEA received the FDA’s input sometime prior to September 30, 2015. Neither agency, however, is currently willing to reveal what the FDA thinks ought to happen.
The FDA also rejected a public records request from VICE News for documents related to the matter, citing the DEA’s pending decision and a provision that allows federal agencies to withhold certain “intra-agency memoranda.” The broad and oft-used exemption the FDA cited in its decision is commonly known as the “withhold it because you can clause.” It previously allowed such records to be kept secret forever, but Congress just passed a reform that forces disclosure within 25 years.
Payne, the DEA spokesperson, said that if the FDA decides a drug is not considered medicine, the DEA is “bound” to keep it in the Schedule I category. But if the FDA calls for moving a drug into a less restrictive category, the DEA is free to ignore that suggestion, though that almost never happens.