Press Release
February 17, 2023

Goodwin Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Pioneer Researchers and Organizations Seeking to Reschedule Psilocybin

A Goodwin team filed an amicus brief on behalf of End of Life Washington, EvergreenHealth, A Sacred Passing, Pancreatic Cancer North America, The Global Wellness Institute, and an international cohort of preeminent medical researchers in support of a petition to reschedule psilocybin to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The team filed the brief in the 9th Circuit supporting a petition to order the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) open rulemaking proceedings to consider rescheduling psilocybin from Schedule I to Schedule II of the CSA. The organizations and researchers explained that accelerating access to psilocybin-assisted therapy to terminally-ill patients suffering from anxiety and depression would greatly improve the state of end-of-life care, and explained that a vast body of clinical evidence demonstrates that psilocybin-assisted therapy is more effective than current treatments and sufficiently safe. This evidence and pressing need justifies rescheduling psilocybin from Schedule I (the most restrictive CSA schedule) to Schedule II (which would expand patient access and reduce research barriers).  

Among those represented by Goodwin and lending their support to the brief are many of the leading researchers who spearheaded the now decades-long effort to demonstrate that psilocybin-assisted therapy is effective and safe, including Roland R. Griffiths, Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins Medicine), Bill Richards Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins Medicine), Bob Jesse (Johns Hopkins Medicine and U.C. Berkeley), and David Nutt, DM, FRCP, FRCPsych, FSB, FMedSci (Imperial College London).    

Petitioners ask the 9th Circuit to remand to the DEA, to require the DEA and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluate the scientific evidence available supporting psilocybin-assisted therapy and to determine whether to reschedule psilocybin.  

“The relief Petitioners are seeking from the 9th Circuit is very straightforward – the DEA should be required to work with the FDA to evaluate the scientific evidence available supporting psilocybin-assisted therapy and reconsider its status as a Schedule I drug,” said Jennifer Fisher, co-chair of Goodwin’s Cannabis practice. “This relief is extremely important to our clients, who are advocates dedicated to improving care for individuals facing the end of their lives and leading researchers who have been spearheading the effort to demonstrate that psilocybin-assisted therapy is effective and safe."

“The world’s leading researchers studying psilocybin-assisted therapy agree that the body of clinical evidence is simply too large for the DEA to ignore, and that DEA must stop delaying access to this much needed treatment,” said Aaron Thompson, who led the briefing effort and coordinated among the organizations and researchers. “We are proud to be representing such an esteemed group of researchers and advocacy organizations in this important case.”

The Goodwin team consisted of Jennifer Fisher, Andrew Kim, Aaron Thompson, James Nikraftar, and Cristina White

For more details, read the brief