This case marks another development in the years-long efforts to make psilocybin legally accessible for patients for therapeutic purposes.
On Friday, October 20th, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard Aggarwal v. United States Drug Enforcement Administration, which centered around the efforts of Sunil Aggarwal, MD to be able to provide psilocybin for terminally ill patients and patients with anxiety and depression (1,2). Dr. Aggarwal, a palliative care physician, is a co-founder of the Advanced Integrative Medical Science Institute (AIMS), which is “an outpatient clinic and research institute dedicated to advancing integrative medical care, research, and education within oncology, psychiatry, neurology, rehabilitation, pain, and palliative care,” (2). For the past few years, he and his team have been taking legal actions to make psilocybin widely and legally accessible, including filing a petition to reschedule psilocybin, which was denied by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in September 2022 (1,2).
“The [current] case seeks federal court review of the DEA’s denial of a petition to reschedule psilocybin (commonly called magic mushrooms) from a highly restricted Schedule I drug to a less restricted Schedule II so that it can be accessed by physicians and other providers to help those with terminal and other life-threatening conditions,” stated a press release on the AIMS website (2). “This case focuses on DEA’s long history of applying an inaccurate test to rescheduling petitions. The outcome of this case could have implications for other emerging and promising therapies.”
Other statements presented by the lawyers representing Dr. Aggarwal included arguments that the DEA did not fully consider the evidence that they had presented in their petition supporting psilocybin as having current accepted medical use, and the argument that the petition should be referred to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (1).
Watch the full case here (starting at 1 hour and 36 minutes into the clip).
For in-depth insight into Dr. Aggarwal’s accomplishments and goals, read The Path to Legalized, Accessible Psilocybin Therapy from our psychedelics issue,Psychedelics: New Frontiers in Alternative Medicine.