The War on Marijuana Goes Before a Federal Judge on Monday

The War on Marijuana Goes Before a Federal Judge on Monday

Today cannabis remains a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, just as it has been for forty-four years. Testimony challenging this classification will be heard by a federal judge in California on Monday October 27, 2014.

To be classified a Schedule I drug, a substance must meet the following criteria:

  1. has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States
  2. has a high potential for abuse
  3. has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision

In 2014, nearly half of the United States have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, yet it is still classified federally as having no currently accepted medical use. There are over two million registered medical marijuana patients with physician recommendations that could argue against the “lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision” point as well. Also, the United States government is listed as owner of at least one medical marijuana patent.

Testimonies from both sides on the issue of the constitutionality of the current classification will be heard in the hearing.

The government is expected to use Bertha Madras, Ph.D. as its expert witness to defend the current Schedule I classification. Madras, a decorated scholar, is currently a Professor of Psychobiology and the chair of the Division of Neurochemistry at Harvard Medical School. She is also well known for her service under President George W. Bush as the Deputy Director for Demand Reduction for the National Drug Control Policy. Madras has publicly advocated against marijuana throughout her career. In her declaration to the court, Madras states that she is in no way paid or employed by the U.S. government to support cannabis remaining a Schedule I drug. Madras has an incredible amount of research experience under her belt, so perhaps her bank account should be checked for deposits from Big Pharma instead.

Personal stories are expected to be shared with the judge by written declarations, in support of cannabis having medicinal uses. Paul Armentano, NORML, wrote that a declaration from a war veteran and his experience with marijuana will be shared. The experience that the mother of a child with epilepsy has gained from the use of medical marijuana is also expected to be shared.

Testifying in support of rescheduling marijuana to a different drug class is Dr. Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, Greg Carter, Director of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute, and retired medical doctor Phillip Denny. These professionals all agree that cannabis needs to be rescheduled to a classification that admits medicinal use.

The hearing starts Monday in California, and is estimated to last for three days.

photo credit: SFStation, Matthew Kenwrick

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