Docket No. DEA-331 reopened for public comment, new deadline is 11/27/09

The DEA issued an NPRM to place 5-MeO-DMT in Schedule I and has reopened the period for public comment because the first notice was defective. So far one substantial objection has been posted which objects primarily on grounds the Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional rather than the sham findings for placement in Schedule I. I'll copy some of that argument below from PUBLIC SUBMISSION DEA-2009-0008-0007.1. Docket No. DEA-331 has gotten confusing because its documents are split between two folders but comments can be submitted to the newer folder. Why not mosey over to Regulations.gov, do a search for "dea-331", read what's been posted and add your two cents worth. If we want to end the drug war we should be objecting to scheduling decisions and challenging the Constitutionality of the CSA at every opportunity. NPRMs give a chance to speak publicly without having to be on trial or able to hire lawyers. Sometimes comments do change a proposed rule and maybe a good enough argument will give a person a shot at pro bono representation. For the latter you'd normally want to identify why you're in a class that can demand a hearing and make that demand during the comment period. Be sure to read the technical stuff about what formats DEA will accept, how the comment has to identify the Docket No. it applies to and what has to be done to prevent personal identifying information from being posted. Comments can also be emailed as attachments to [email protected] or sent to the snail mail address in the notices. This is from the already posted comment I mentioned: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." -- First Amendment to the United States Constitution My first objection to the proposed rule is that the DEA is acting through delegation of a power that is Constitutionally invalid. The scheduling system of the Controlled Substances Act has been fatally flawed from its inception by its violation of the First Amendment. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention And Control Act of 1970 is deliberately not religiously neutral and one of the functions of the Controlled Substances Act is to act as a means of enforcing a primitive, muddled political-religious orthodoxy which has evolved into a primitive, muddled state religion. The CSA was intended to prefer some religious beliefs and organizations. The CSA was intended to discriminatorily and prejudicially suppress disfavored free exercise of religion that could not be extinguished. "The term 'controlled substance' means a drug or other substance, or immediate precursor, included in schedule I, II, III, IV, or V of part B of this subchapter. The term does not include distilled spirits, wine, malt beverages, or tobacco, as those terms are defined or used in subtitle E of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986." -- 21 U.S.C. 802(6) 21 U.S.C. 802(6) violates the Establishment Clause by giving preference to some religions. The exclusion of alcohol from possible scheduling as a controlled substance includes wine which is used sacramentally, ritually or both by many major religious denominations in the United States. This preferment is clearly no accident though it is unspoken. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention And Control Act of 1970 could not conceivably have passed if it had not given this special protection to religions which so many members of Congress (and the voters they depended on to remain members of Congress) belonged to. [snip] The CSA was passed at a time when many people, including politicians, openly expressed fear that use of certain drugs was leading to "new" and unorthodox religious beliefs within the general population, deluded mysticism, increasing numbers of people with faith who did not belong to organized religious institutions, increasing popularity of "foreign" religions and was a threat to well established religious denominations by fostering defection, heresy or schism. Extravagent claims and beliefs about religious use of psychedelic drugs from proponents and oponents were near their peak in 1970 with the news media giving the most attention to the most sensational claims. Attempts to found "psychedelic churches" or have drug laws overturned on First Amendment grounds were very troublesome to many members of Congress. Political opposition to these religious "threats" was openly advocated at that time. There was and is a remarkably anamistic view of "drugs" by opponents of their use or "abuse" and an overlapping sense of them as tools of the Devil. Religious repression has always been more than an "incidental" effect of the CSA. "The term 'controlled substance' means a drug or other substance, or immediate precursor, included in schedule I, II, III, IV, or V of part B of this subchapter. The term does not include distilled spirits, wine, malt beverages, or tobacco, as those terms are defined or used in subtitle E of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986." -- 21 U.S.C. 802(6) Placing a substance in a certain Schedule or removing it from a certain Schedule is primarily based on 21 U.S.C. 801, 21 U.S.C. 801a, 21 U.S.C. 802, 21 U.S.C. 811, 21 U.S.C. 812, 21 U.S.C. 813, 21 U.S.C. 814 and arbitrary decisions. The restrictive medical use provisions of all schedules prohibit religious use except when the religious use is identical to medical use as the government defines it. Even in these instances the ability to exercise religious/medical use of controlled substances is dependent on assent from government authorized people and institutions. The churchly dispensers or withholders of "gifts of grace" and healing who often abrogate choice of medicines for reasons that have little or nothing to do with medical expertise. This highlights the degree to which the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses address intertwined matters and the degree to which the federal government directly regulates the practice of medicine and the practice of pharmacy within the States (which is more of a Tenth Amendment issue). Code Of Federal Regulations SPECIAL EXEMPT PERSONS Section 1307.31 Native American Church. The listing of peyote as a controlled substance in Schedule I does not apply to the nondrug use of peyote in bona fide religious ceremonies of the Native American Church, and members of the Native American Church so using peyote are exempt from registration. Any person who manufactures peyote for or distributes peyote to the Native American Church, however, is required to obtain registration annually and to comply with all other requirements of law. This exemption applies to ingestion of peyote; "nondrug use" is clearly a theological decision not a scientific one. There are indisputabley grave questions about the religious neutrality of the Controlled Substances Act since controlled substances are restricted from nonmedical use, wine is one of only four substances excluded from definition as a controlled substance and religious use is nonmedical use. These Constitutional issues have not been acknowledged by the Supreme Court when stating the Controlled Substances Act is a "neutral law of general applicability" and determing the proper standard of scrutiny for conflict with the First Amendment. [end quote] The DEA is tentatively planning to issue an NPRM in December to end the "peyote exemption" for the Native American Church. If it does issue that NPRM there will be plenty of lawyers rushing to defend the NAC and maybe some can be snagged for a direct challenge of the Controlled Substances Act. Especially likely if any NAC people decide it's better for them to challenge the CSA's Constitutionality than just seek continued special exemption from a law that oppresses everyone.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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