Seattle Doctor Pushes to Change DEA's Stance on Psilocybin

The DEA indicated it could revisit the matter if the Ninth Circuit Court remanded the case.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has signaled a willingness to reconsider its stance on psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms,” according to a recent court filing, Law360 reported.

Seattle-based physician Dr. Sunil Aggarwal petitioned the appellate court to review the DEA’s refusal to reclassify psilocybin from Schedule I to Schedule II, marking another chapter in the multiyear battle between the doctor and the agency.

The DEA denied Aggarwal’s rescheduling petition last September, asserting that psilocybin lacks a “currently accepted medical use.” The agency noted that the substance has not received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and failed to meet the DEA’s five-factor test, which assesses the potential medical uses of unapproved drugs.

However, in its recent filing, the DEA indicated it could revisit the matter if the court remanded the case. The agency recognized the public interest in potential uses of psilocybin and expressed a willingness to gather additional data.

“If DEA is able to gather the necessary data indicating that there is a reasonable basis for rescheduling, DEA would then be in a position to refer the petition to (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) for a scientific and medical evaluation and a scheduling recommendation,” the agency said.

Aggarwal, along with other petitioners, argued that the FDA’s approval of clinical trials showing psilocybin’s efficacy in treating mental health conditions and assisting end-of-life care patients should prompt the DEA to reconsider.

The legal barb began in 2021 when Aggarwal and his patients at the Advanced Integrative Medical Science Institute petitioned the Ninth Circuit for permission to use psilocybin in treating terminally ill patients. They argued that the 2018 federal Right To Try law and similar state laws should supersede the Controlled Substances Act.

That request was dismissed in January 2022, after which Aggarwal filed a formal petition to initiate the DEA’s review process, leading to the current appeal.

Aggarwal alleged that the DEA disregarded his arguments for rescheduling psilocybin and violated the law by not consulting the FDA about its potential uses.

In an email to the outlet, Kathryn Tucker, who represents the petitioners, criticized the DEA’s stall.

“Dying patients remain suffering unnecessarily while the agency delays,” she said.

Adam Jackson

Adam Jackson writes about the cannabis industry for the Green Market Report. He previously covered the Missouri Statehouse for the Columbia Missourian and has written for the Missouri Independent. He most recently covered retail, restaurants and other consumer companies for Bloomberg Business News. You can find him on Twitter at @adam_sjackson and email him at

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