A federal appeals court rejected a petition to reclassify marijuana from its current federal status as a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use.
The appeals court panel denied the bid from three medical marijuana groups, including Americans for Safe Access, and several individuals. In 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration had rejected a petition by medical marijuana advocates to change the classification.
In his majority opinion Tuesday, Judge Harry T. Edwards wrote that the question wasn't whether marijuana could have some medical benefits, but rather whether the DEA's decision was "arbitrary and capricious." The court concluded that the DEA action survived a review under that standard.
The ruling came just months after Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use. Last month, President Barack Obama said that federal authorities have "bigger fish to fry" than recreational drug users in those states
In the federal system, marijuana is classified as a controlled substance, categorized as having a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use, together with drugs like heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
The court noted that the DEA denied the petition after the Department of Health and Human Services gave the DEA its evaluation that marijuana lacks a currently accepted medical use in the United States.
DEA regulations define "currently accepted medical use" to require, among other things, "adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy."
Americans for Safe Access cited more than 200 peer-reviewed published studies demonstrating marijuana's efficacy for various medical uses, including a 1999 study by the respected Institute of Medicine, a government adviser on health issues.
To read the full Court ruling, click here.
Here's what you should know about the most widely used illicit drug in America. - From: NCADD brochure, Just The Facts: Marijuana.