Recognizing Science using the Data Quality Act

Published in 2008

The federal government, and the U.S. Department of Human Services (HHS) in particular, refute the medical benefits of marijuana and disseminate information to the public that marijuana has no medical value. The problem is that the federal government is basing its position on inaccurate and incomplete information about marijuana's medical efficacy. There exists more than enough evidence domestically and internationally to show that marijuana has benefitted countless people in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. 

ASA launched a legal challenge to HHS in October 2004 to correct published medical marijuana misinformation under the Data Quality Act (DQA), a little-known law that requires federal agencies to rely on sound science.  The DQA requires federal agencies, like HHS, to use reliable science when making regulations and disseminating information. 

On April 20, 2005, HHS denied ASA's petition, but we quickly filed an appeal. After eight letters of delay, HHS finally denied ASA's appeal in July 2006. ASA has since filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking judicial review of the decision by HHS to deny the ASA petition.  That lawsuit was dismissed because the district court found that the Data Quality Act does not provide for judicial review, which prompted ASA to appeal the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The case is now fully briefed and was argued on April 14, 2009.  If we prevail with our DQA lawsuit, HHS and the federal government will have to change its position on medical marijuana and publicly admit that marijuana is now routinely used for medical treatment, clearing the way for doctors to prescribe it to their patients.

Review ASA's DQA petition, the delay letters from HHS and the government's denial of the petition and appeal here.

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Data Quality Act Briefs

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Fact Sheet on ASA's Data Quality Act Petition to HHS

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ASA Data Quality Act petition to HHS

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Information on Lawyers and Named Patients in the Data Quality Act Lawsuit