With regard to the definition of "accepted medical use," would you happen to know if that is defined by administrative regulation or if it is simply defined by whoever the acting administrator/bureaucrat in that position is?
It looks to be a combination of boring bureaucratic mechanics combined with political will. I suspect the political will is the one and only key, in the end.
Here's a description of the process from a 2013 article by Brookings, which is a "nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC."
So, how does administrative rescheduling work? It is not as easy as some in the marijuana advocacy community—and critics of the Obama administration’s position on this issue—would have you think. It is a complex process in which scientific, medical, policy and political forces have influence. In a nutshell, administrative rescheduling begins when an actor—the Secretary of Health and Human Services or an outside interested party—files a petition with the Attorney General or he initiates the process himself. The Attorney General forwards the request to the HHS Secretary asking for a scientific and medical evaluation and recommendation, as specified by 23 USC 811(b-c). HHS, via the Food and Drug Administration conducts an assessment and returns a recommendation to the Attorney General “in a timely manner.” The Attorney General, often through the Drug Enforcement Administration, conducts its own concurrent and independent review of the evidence in order to determine whether a drug should be scheduled, rescheduled, or removed from control entirely—depending on the initial request in the petition.
If the Attorney General finds sufficient evidence that a change in scheduling is warranted he then initiates the first stages of a standard rulemaking process, consistent with the Administrative Procedures Act. During rulemaking and consistent with Executive Order 12866, if the White House—through the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of information and Regulatory Affairs—determines the rule to be “significant,” it will conduct a regulatory review of the proposed rule—a very likely outcome given the criteria in the EO.
The politics of rescheduling
While in an ideal world the FDA, DEA, and Attorney General would make their determinations about marijuana scheduling solely based on scientific, medical, and policy considerations, the reality is quite different. These choices are ultimately made by presidential appointees and others sensitive to political considerations.
If you're interested, there's a lot of other good law and policy in the article regarding cannabis legalization and how cannabis has been treated by the federal government as states have been legalizing. There's also a handy flow chart that shows how the legislature can simply re-schedule drugs as they see fit, while the administrative/agency rulemaking route seems much more complex (not that the path for legislation isn't complex, but it can happen pretty fucking fast when Congress wants it to.)
Then there's Americans for Safe Access vs. DEA, a case from the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit involving a lawsuit against the DEA. I haven't read it but it's apparently about a group who sued the DEA to reschedule cannabis (spoiler: the DEA won.) The case might be relevant now because one of the Circuit Judges ruling on it was Hon. Merrick Garland, who will soon be the new U.S. Attorney General, and therefore could play some role in the rescheduling of cannabis if the legislature doesn't do it. He'll definitely have a role to play in the way the federal government enforces the federal laws surrounding cannabis. Careful: his actions as a judge don't necessarily translate to his future actions as Attorney General. Still, if you're interested in the scheduling process, it looks like the case will illuminate it for you.
Here's an article that discusses Merrick Garland's position on pot directly: https://thefreshtoas...nd-on-cannabis/
Edited by Sidestreet, 13 January 2021 - 06:03 AM.