The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is preparing to pass a rule that would place five tryptamine hallucinogens on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). These compounds would then be as illegal as heroin, fentanyl or other dangerous drugs. Their possession, use, and manufacture would be a felony that could lead to jail and massive fines. Of course the DEA wants to ban more psychedelics.
Which psychedelics does the DEA want to ban?
DEA wants to ban the following psychedelic substances, as well as their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers:
- 4-Hydroxy-N,N-diisopropyltryptamine (4-OH-DiPT)
- 5-Methoxy-alphamethyltryptamine (5-MeO-AMT)
- N-Isopropyl-5-Methoxy-N-Methyltryptamine (5-MeO-MiPT)
- N,N-Diethyl-5-methoxytryptamine (5-MeO-DET)
- N,N-Diisopropyltryptamine (DiPT).
According to the DEA, these substances “share structural and pharmacological similarities with several schedule I tryptamine hallucinogens, such as alpha-methyltryptamine (AMT), N,Ndimethyltryptamine (DMT), 5-methoxy-N,N-diisopropyltryptamine (5-MeO-DiPT), and psilocyn.”
What the DEA is doing to ban these psychedelics
Under federal law, the DEA may add substances to CSA schedules via regulation. Agencies can adopt regulations after a public notice and comment period. The DEA publishes a rule on the Federal Register, solicits public comments, and uses those comments to either move forward with the rule, modify the rule, or scrap it.
Today, January 14, 2022, the DEA published a proposed rule on the Federal Register that would add the above psychedelics to Schedule I of the CSA and thereby ban them. We’ll explain the rule in detail in the next section. Public comments are due by February 14. Given our experience with the DEA, we think it’s highly unlikely that comments will go anywhere, and that the agency will move forward with finalizing the rule once comments are in.
Why does the DEA want to ban more psychedelics?
The rulemaking process is quite slow. In 2008, DEA asked the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to evaluate these drugs. Four years later, HHS provided scientific and medical evaluations that recommended scheduling the substances. DEA then performed its own evaluation and concluded that there was sufficient evidence for the potential for abuse. The agency believed that:
- Because these drugs elicit similar effects to other psychedelics on Schedule I, there is a high potential for abuse;
- The drugs don’t have marketing approval from the FDA so they lack a currently accepted medical use; and
- Because the drugs have no approval for medical use, there’s a lack of accepted safety for their use.
We think the agency has made a lot of very conclusory statements and logical jumps here. But for the purposes of this post, these conclusions mean that the agency believes Schedule I is appropriate.
What the DEA proposed rule does beyond scheduling the psychedelics
If the rule is finalized, then the above drugs will be placed on Schedule I. This means that any activity involving them will be illegal without government approval. The proposed rule lists a host of specific requirements that would apply to anyone who would want to possess the drugs (for research purposes). These include things like registration, security, labeling, inventory, records, and import/export rules.
The proposed rule notes that there are 31 known domestic suppliers of these drugs, and that all but one have no DEA registration in place for any substance. It’s no surprise that the DEA wants to ban more psychedelics. If this rule passes – and you can rest assured that it will – these drugs will be banned.