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Legal Updates
Related to Psychoactive Issues
by Erowid
Jun 2004
Citation:   Erowid. "Legal Updates Related to Psychoactive Issues". Erowid Extracts. Jun 2004;6:18-19.
TFMPP De-Scheduled
On March 18, 2004, TFMPP's emergency placement into Schedule I was withdrawn by the DEA. It had been placed under control by emergency ruling, along with 2C-T-7 and BZP, on September 20, 2002. Within 18 months following emergency scheduling, the DEA, in conjunction with the FDA, is required to provide scientific evidence to support a substance's permanent placement into Schedule I. While this evidence was found for 2C-T-7 and BZP, it was not found for TFMPP. "... under recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a scientific evaluation of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the DHHS did not recommend control of TFMPP. Accordingly, TFMPP will no longer be controlled under the CSA after March 19, 2004."1

This makes TFMPP the first material ever to have been emergency scheduled federally and then removed from the CSA rather than permanently scheduled.

2C-T-7 and BZP Update
Also on March 18, 2004, 18 months after they were emergency scheduled, 2C-T-7 and BZP were placed permanently into Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act. The DEA and FDA agreed that there was enough evidence to support this decision.
The Federal Register entry announcing this move contains an interesting statement: "As these substances have no legitimate medical use in the U.S., the trafficking in, and use by individuals for the psychoactive effects they produce, is considered abuse."1
While this is a common assertion on the part of the DEA and law enforcement, it's not often they specifically state that the definition they are working from equates "abuse" with "use for psychoactive effects". "Abuse" of a substance, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) requires a "maladaptive pattern of substance use manifested by recurrent and significant adverse consequences related to the repeated use of a substance."2

The Controlled Substance Act as passed by Congress requires that Schedule I substances must be found to have both no medical use AND have a high potential for abuse. The definition of "abuse" as stated in the recent Federal Register entry effectively collapses these two requirements into a single criterion by equating any use of an unapproved substance with abuse.

BZP in New Zealand
BZP is widely available and marketed as a recreational stimulant in New Zealand. New Zealand's Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) recently looked at BZP and submitted a report to the Ministry of Health. In their report, they recommended that BZP not be scheduled at this time due to there being "insufficient information on which to base a recommendation to classify".3 Their report mentioned several other interesting points, including:
  1. The U.S. DEA cited a single case report of a death after BZP and MDMA ingestion as part of its rationale for scheduling the substance. Yet according to the EACD, no causal link was established between BZP and the death.
  2. BZP has the potential to be used as a harm-reduction measure for methamphetamine addicts.
  3. BZP does not fit into any existing schedule and the EACD recommended that the Ministry of Health consider creating a new schedule which would limit access by age without prohibiting the substance completely.
In July 2003, the administrator of the French cannabis web portal was arrested after being named in a cannabis cultivation case. These charges came as the result of a 17-year-old allegedly testifying that he ordered cannabis seeds from a British website whose address he found while surfing a site hosted by Cannabistrot. Under French law, web hosts are responsible for the content they host if they have been notified by a third party and fail to remove the offensive content. Cannabistrot claims they were never notified of a problem with the site they hosted or the links it contained.

Then in January 2004, members of the organization Pot Head Pixies (PHP) which runs were charged with "provoking the use of cannabis" through their anti-prohibitionist views as demonstrated by the sale of legal gardening supplies and books about cannabis cultivation and use. A pre-trial judiciary court order--which is being appealed--prohibits PHP representatives from running any websites (including those un-related to cannabis), selling gardening supplies or books about the cultivation or use of prohibited substances, or participating in "anti-prohibitionist activities". Prosecutors will have to prove that Cannabistrot was deliberately attempting to facilitate illegal activity by French citizens.

This case is the latest in a series of trials brought against shops, organizations, and publishers active in the French drug scene. In March, there was an appeal in the trial of the president of Techno Plus, a rave harm reduction group. Techno Plus, which produces brochures, provides health information, and advises policy has been publicly funded for eight years. Its president was brought to trial by the state prosecutor because of two fliers, one explaining how to insufflate properly to avoid disease and another explaining the relative safety of various drug combinations. A mistrial was called due to a technical error on the state's side, and the state appealed so a second trial will be held. This situation is politically interesting because Techno Plus was publicly funded, operating with the tacit agreement of the French Ministry of Health.

In February, the city council of Oakland, CA voted to impose restrictions on the medical cannabis clubs operating in the city. The new ordinance, which takes effect June 1, 2004 limits the city to four licensed, non-profit medical cannabis providers. The City will review these imposed limits for medical cannabis providers in December at which time it may allow more permits to be issued. The clubs will be restricted in where they can be located (more than 1,000 feet from schools, libraries, youth centers, etc.). The City Manager retains the power to allow use within these areas if no complaints are found.4

The City of Oakland also banned cannabis smoking, consumption and ingestion on-site within facilities complying with state law. An ad hoc committee will be set up to investigate this issue, with a report due in the summer of 2004. This report will propose allowing consumption and ingestion of medical cannabis in non-smoked forms like vaporizing and eating baked goods.

Four medical cannabis providers will be chosen from a review of applications that have already been turned in. This process is underway with providers to be licensed. Inspections of their properties will also be made by all related City agencies to ensure safe operations before the four are finally issued permits to meet the June 1, 2004 deadline for this permit process.

Leonard Pickard Sentencing
After being found guilty in March 2003 of conspiracy and possession of LSD with intent to distribute more than 10 grams, Leonard Pickard was sentenced in November 2003 to two consecutive life sentences without parole. He is appealing the verdict to a higher court.5

In related news, Gordon Todd Skinner, the primary witness against Pickard during his trial, was arrested with his wife on charges of kidnapping, conspiracy to kidnap, torture of a teenager, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and drug trafficking. In an unrelated case, he was also arrested on drug trafficking charges for distributing MDMA at Burning Man.6