Data Quality Act

In 2001, despite significant evidence to the contrary, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) began posting to its web site information that marijuana has no medical value. In response to this blatant disregard for scientific evidence, ASA filed a Data Quality Act (DQA) petition on October 4, 2004, requesting that HHS correct its information being disseminated regarding the medical use of marijuana. The DQA requires federal agencies, like HHS, to ensure that the information it distributes is fair, objective and meets certain quality guidelines. Congress passed the DQA primarily in response to increased use of the Internet, to prevent the harm that can occur when government websites, which are easily and often accessed by the public, disseminate inaccurate information.

After numerous delays, HHS denied ASA’s petition on April 20, 2005. ASA quickly filed an appeal, and after even more delays, on July 12, 2006, HHS denied the appeal. Having exhausted its administrative remedies, ASA filed a lawsuit on February 21, 2007, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, naming HHS and FDA, and challenging the government’s violation of the Data Quality Act. An amended complaint was subsequently filed on August 17, 2007, which was dismissed on November 20, 2007.

ASA has appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the matter was argued on April 14, 2009.