Today in Arlington County, Virginia, the trespassing charges filed against the 17 Right to Try Psilocybin advocates were dismissed! They were arrested on May 9, 2022, after staging a 4 hour direct action at the DEA HQ. With the charges being dismissed they face no community service or no fines– just an expungable record of their arrest. This lack of prosecution goes to show how the DEA does not want any unwanted attention to it’s obstruction to access to psilocybin for therapeutic use with dying patients!
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
CONTACT: Ken Bazinet Ph: 202-660-2449 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Right to Try Psilocybin Backs Lawsuit Against Justice Department
Accuses DOJ and DEA of Cover-Up Blocking Terminally Ill from Treatment
Demands Attorney General Produce Documents Withheld in FOIA Request
WASHINGTON — Right to Try Psilocybin announced it is giving its full support to a lawsuit filed by a well-known cancer care provider, its co-founder and attorneys specializing in end-of-life advocacy and opening access to crucial medicine. The plaintiffs are suing Attorney General Merrick Garland and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram over the Justice Department (DOJ) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for intentionally failing to produce essential documents and information under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The lawsuit casts light on an on-going federal effort that prevents terminally ill Americans from treating themselves with quality of life-improving psilocybin.
“The government’s excuses, delays and obfuscation all point to a cover-up that unmercifully ignores the pain and suffering of desperately ill Americans,” Adam Eidinger, a bladder cancer survivor and founding member of the advocacy and educational group Right To Try Psilocybin (RTTP). “What possible reason could any decent public servant cite that rises above the need and compassion of allowing an American citizen access to medicine that can potentially improve a patient’s quality of life?”
The plaintiffs are suing to get the requested documents and a finding from the court that Attorney General Garland, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, DOJ and DEA violated the FOIA rules by intentionally and repeatedly failing to produce the requested documents. The plaintiffs also demand that they get a court-backed assurance that this practice of ignoring or dodging FOIA requests cease. The case, which can be found here, was filed in U.S. District Court in Houston, Texas.
The four plaintiffs, whose research depends on being able to access the accurate and detailed information they have requested from DOJ and DEA, are:
- AIMS Institute, an integrative oncology clinic located in Seattle dedicated to providing cutting-edge integrative medical care, research, and education in oncology, psychiatry, neurology, rehabilitation, pain management, and palliative care
- Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, a physician with specialized expertise in palliative care located in Seattle, Co-founder and co-director of the AIMS, who holds a DEA certificate of registration to prescribe controlled substances for drugs listed in Schedules II-IV of the Controlled Substances Act
- Kathryn Tucker of Bend, Oregon, is an attorney who has dedicated her career to advocating on behalf of terminally ill persons. She is Special Counsel and co-chair of the Psychedelics Practice Group at Emerge Law Group and regularly works with clients in the controlled and psychedelic substances space
- And Matthew C. Zorn of Houston, Texas, is an attorney whose residence and principal place of business are in this District. Zorn regularly works with clients in the controlled substances space and has active matters pending before DEA.
RTTP is planning grassroots organizing in the coming months, including a protest concert and rally at the White House this October 9th. Outreach to performers is already underway. Other events are in the works for the fall, and the group is also considering options to directly support the case of the four plaintiffs.
“Our message is Mr. Garland, remove these unlawful walls of injustice and allow the American people access to the same information the federal government has hidden in its vaults,” said Eidinger of RTTP.
RTTP advocates for the right to try psilocybin to be available to all patients. Extensive research has shown that psilocybin can bring “immediate, substantial, and sustained improvements in anxiety and depression; decreased demoralization and hopelessness, improved spiritual well-being, increased quality of life.“ In addition, RTTP is demanding a halt to DEA preventing terminally ill patients from legally accessing psilocybin. DEA incorrectly asserts that the Controlled Substances Act, which scheduled psilocybin in the most restrictive category, prevents dying patients from accessing the drug even though it qualifies under the Right to Try Act.
We have some big news to share: Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Nancy Mace (R-SC) are introducing new legislation to amend the Right to Try Act of 2018! Click here to read Senator Booker’s press release.
The aim of this bipartisan legislation is to clarify that the original Right to Try act applies to Schedule I drugs. If this passes, those with life-threatening conditions in at least 41 states where Right To Try laws have already been passed will be able to access psilocybin. THIS IS HUGE!
What can you do?
CALL YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TODAY!
The operator will ask for your zip code in order to connect you with your representative. Here’s a sample script:
“Hello, my name is __________ from ________ (city, state). I am calling about the Right to Try Clarification Act. I believe those with life-threatening conditions should have the right to try eligible investigational drugs, including those on Schedule I, such as psilocybin. Please tell the Congressperson that they should support this important legislation. Thank you for your time.“
It should only take about 5 minutes of your time and will go a long way in helping this important piece of legislation pass! Be sure to reach out to both of your senators and your representative. Please forward this email to folks who you think will be wiling to help!
Sign Our Petition to the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration!Read the Petition
Text of petition:
Dear Anne Melissa Milgram,
I am writing to you, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), to voice concern about your agency obstructing access to psilocybin for therapeutic use consistent with the letter and intent Right to Try (RTT) laws. Research demonstrates that psilocybin provides immediate, substantial, and sustained relief from debilitating anxiety and depression in individuals with terminal illnesses. I strongly believe that people in my community suffering such illnesses should have access to this investigational drug should they decide to pursue such a course of treatment.
Individuals with advanced cancer that are also suffering from treatment-resistant anxiety and/or depression have been found to experience significant reductions in both anxiety and depression, and improvements in mood, following a single guided session of psilocybin-assisted therapy, with no safety concerns or clinically significant adverse effects. Of note, researchers have also found that the benefits from such a treatment are sustained, with patients experiencing increases in measures of quality of life, life meaning, death acceptance, and optimism six months after treatment. I am excited by this research and the implications it has for members of my community suffering terminal illness.
Recognizing that people with terminal conditions do not have the luxury of time to await the slow approval process for new drugs, in 2018 federal lawmakers enacted the Right to Try Act, echoing 41 similar State legislative enactments, to ensure that these individuals have access to drugs in investigational stages. RTT statues allow for terminally ill individuals to access drugs still in investigational stages. Psilocybin qualifies as an investigational drug under the terms outlined in applicable state and federal statutes. Notwithstanding, suffering dying individuals seeking treatment with psilocybin are being prohibited from receiving such a treatment because of the DEA’s refusal to accommodate RTT. This has led the Advanced Integrative Medical Science Institute (AIMS), an outpatient oncology clinic and research institute that has been denied access to psilocybin for therapeutic use with terminally ill individuals, to file suit against the DEA (AIMS, et al v. USDEA). This case can and ought to be quickly settled in a manner which addresses DEA’s legitimate concerns about ensuring adequate security to prevent diversion, while enabling dying cancer patients such as those in the AIMS case access to psilocybin, as intended by RTT laws. Urgent action is needed to ensure that people currently suffering terminal illness can elect treatment involving psilocybin.
I therefore urge you to take quick action to ensure that the DEA follows duly enacted RTT law and accommodates people in my community with terminal illnesses in receiving psilocybin for therapeutic use. I appreciate your attention to this urgent matter.
On May 9, 2022, we demonstrated for nearly 4 hours outside of the DEA HQ, which resulted in 17 arrests for trespassing.
This 5 minute film was produced by reconsider:
This 4 minute film was produced by Susan Rockefeller:
For those unable to join us in person, here’s the livestream:
Click here to watch the live stream on Facebook
- The Hill – Activists demanding psilocybin for terminally ill patients arrested outside DEA headquarters
- Marijuana Moment – Psychedelics Activists Arrested At DEA Headquarters Amid Protest Over Psilocybin Access For Terminal Patients
- Leafly – Protestors of psilocybin ban arrested at DEA headquarters
- Outlaw Report – Activists Urging Psilocybin Access For Terminally Ill Patients Arrested At DEA Headquarters
- Lucid News – Protests at DEA for Medical Psilocybin Lead to Arrests
- High Times – Psilocybin Protestors Arrested Outside of DEA Headquarters
- Bloomberg Government – Hunt for Psychedelic Mushrooms Faces DEA Hurdle to Right to Try
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 9, 2022
CONTACT: Adam Eidinger
Press@RightToTryPsilocybin.com | 202-744-2671
Terminally Ill Cancer Patient and Supporters of the Right to Try Act to Shut Down Drug Enforcement Administration Headquarters
The DEA Is Preventing Terminally-Ill Patients Their Legal Right to Try Psilocybin by Invoking the Controlled Substances Act
ARLINGTON, VA — On Monday, May, 9, at 12:00pm ET, supporters of U.S. citizens’ right to try psilocybin will hold a rally and engage in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) headquarters. Passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in 2018, the Right to Try Act affords citizens with life-threatening conditions the right to use experimental drugs as long as the drug has completed Phase 1 clinical trials and remains under investigation. Laboratory-produced psilocybin, the psychoactive chemical commonly found in psilocybe mushrooms, has completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials, remains under investigation, and has been designated as a “breakthrough therapy” by the Federal Drug Administration. Psilocybin has been shown to bring ‘Immediate, substantial and sustained’ relief from anxiety and depression in dying patients. Unfortunately, the DEA has prevented terminally-ill patients from receiving the drug for nearly two years by incorrectly citing the Controlled Substances Act and psilocybin’s status as a Schedule I drug.
“My cancer is progressing and I am running out of time to access this promising medicine. It is not just the DEA’s refusal to grant access, but the fact that they have yet to confirm receipt and/or respond to our waiver request from early February is inhumane, unjust, and downright shameful. This agency is not above the law, and in this instance a law that was passed with overwhelming unilateral support from our legislators.” says Erinn Baldeschwiler, a mother of two teenagers, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer in 2020.
Ms. Baldeschwiler’s doctor, Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, a Seattle palliative care physician and co-director of the Advanced Integrative Medical Science Institute, sought permission from the DEA to obtain psilocybin for his patients. As a Schedule I substance, this requires the DEA to sign off on his request, which it has refused to do. This began a legal battle that is still ongoing.
“We have patiently explored every avenue with DEA to gain its approval for terminally ill patients to access psilocybin for relief of debilitating anxiety and depression. Access is intended by duly enacted state and federal Right to Try (RTT) laws. Yet the DEA has engaged in delay and obstruction. This is unacceptable. My clients are running out of time. There is urgent need for the DEA to accommodate RTT and enable access. This demonstration shines the bright light of public concern and outrage on this agency’s conduct. Not one more day ought to go by without the DEA creating a path to access.” says Kathryn Tucker, Special Counsel with the Emerge Law Group and the Lead Counsel in the legal battle for the doctors and patients.
As their lawsuit has moved through the courts numerous members of Congress and Attorneys General have reached out to the DEA and submitted amicus briefs (See Timeline below). All appeals have fallen on deaf ears and have given reason for advocates to come to the DEA Headquarters to demand action.
“Psilocybin therapy has the power to help patients in the final months of their life, to break through fear and anxiety, and enjoy their family and loved ones” says David Bronner, the Cosmic Engagement Officer of Dr. Bronner’s, the nation’s leading organic and fair trade soap company, which has supported efforts to ease restrictions on psilocybin. “DEA is way out of line denying Americans access to this kind of relief in their last days.” Bronner will be speaking at the rally and engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience in support of the patients.
Join us for a
National Mobilization and Call for Civil Disobedience on Behalf of Terminally Ill and Others Facing Life-Threatening Conditions
May 9th @ Noon
700 Army Navy Dr., Arlington, VA 22202
DEA GET OUT OF THE WAY!
Psilocybin therapy has shown incredible promise alleviating the debilitating existential distress many with life-threatening conditions face in their last days, sabotaging their quality of life and time with family and friends. FDA has granted “breakthrough status” to psilocybin therapy for depression, in light of safety and promising signs of efficacy in stage 2 FDA trials, especially for end of life patents. Congress passed the national Right to Try Act in 2018 to allow Americans with life-threatening conditions to access promising medicines that have passed phase I trials, without having to wait for completion of the new drug approval process.. However DEA is blocking access to psilocybin therapy, even as Canada is now allowing north of the border. Kathryn Tucker, lead litigator in the Right to Try litigation seeking to overcome DEA obstruction and provide access for dying patients sums it up:
“To absolutely prohibit access, when state and federal law are intended to allow access, that is impermissible. …These dying patients could have immediate, substantial, and sustained relief from debilitating anxiety and depression. That’s what all the studies show.. Why anyone would obstruct access to that kind of relief for a dying patient is impossible to comprehend.”
At noon on May 9th, 2022, patients, veterans, and other advocates will gather with family and friends in front of DEA headquarters, to protest and engage in civil disobedience, blocking DEA entrances to demand the agency stop its obstruction of duly enacted state and federal laws, and open access to this healing therapy for end-of-life suffering.
Short Timeline Revealing DEA’s Delay and Obstruction
January 2021: Physician and Patients request for access to psilocybin presented to DEA
February 2021: DEA denies any access for therapeutic use
March 2021: Federal court challenge to DEA position filed on behalf of physician and patients. Case is knowns as AIMS et al v DEA, filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
April-August 2021: Legal briefs filed with court, including a multitude of Friend of the Court briefs by those supporting Petitioners:
• Eight States and DC
• Cato and Goldwater Institutes
• The ACLU
• End of Life Advocates, leading researchers, leading palliative care experts
September 2021: Oral argument heard by the Ninth Circuit
January 18, 2022: a bipartisan delegation of Members of Congress submit letter to DEA urging access and compliance with RTT laws
January 31, 2022: Ninth Circuit issues opinion finding DEA action not “final” for purposes to enable judicial review.
February 2, 2022: Petitioners submit a Petition to Reschedule Psilocybin from Schedule I to Schedule II
February 10, 2022: Petitioners submit a Request for Waiver to enable access to psilocybin pursuant to state and federal RTT laws, seeking an agency action sufficiently “final” to enable judicial review. DEA has yet to even formally acknowledge receipt, and clearly intends to do everything in their power to continue to deny and delay.
March 31, 2022: Petitioners submit a Freedom of Information Act request to DEA, demanding information on it handling of the Request for Waiver and Petition to Reschedule.
April 13, 2022: Letter mailed to DEA asking why it takes so long to accept a petition for rescheduling
May 9, 2022: Activists gather outside the DEA HQ to STOP THE DEA DELAY!