Today a federal judge in Sacramento upheld the 1970 ruling that puts marijuana in the same class as heroin and cocaine.
U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller recently held a five day hearing on marijuana’s schedule one status, with several prominent news organizations speaking their voice leading up to the ruling.
NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano, cited Mueller’s conclusion – that it was up to the U.S. Congress to decide on the matter.
“At some point in time, a court may decide this status to be unconstitutional,” Mueller said, “But this is not the court and not the time.”
The conclusion did not come as a surprise, with many expecting a ruling of opinion and no overall schedule change.
In reaction to this, Armentano stated,
“We applaud Judge Mueller for having the courage to hear this issue and provide it the careful consideration it deserves.”
“While we are disappointed with this ruling, it changes little. We always felt this had to ultimately be decided by the 9th Circuit and we have an unprecedented record for the court to consider.”
A hearing of this detail and magnitude regarding the federal government’s position on marijuana has not happen in decades. Many think it came as a response to a pretrial defense motion in multiple cases by the feds against alleged illegal marijuana growers.
The decision was announced by Mueller in the courtroom Wednesday morning, with a written ruling to follow in the coming weeks.
A recent petition has surfaced on WhiteHouse.gov calling for the rescheduling of marijuana. Currently, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it has no medicinal merit.
As a Schedule I Drug, marijuana joins the ranks of Heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. In comparison, cocaine, meth and OxyContin are all labeled as Schedule II drugs with less potential for abuse then Schedule I drugs. With empirical evidence showing that marijuana has efficacy in the treatment of a variety of epileptic conditions, it is shameful that our government believes that the drug has less medical value than cocaine and methamphetamine.
The reclassification of marijuana would likely be dictated by the DEA who have received numerous petitions in the past. As recently as 2011, Washington state Governor Christine Gregoire and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee petitioned to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug.
The petition on WhiteHouse.gov need 100,000 signatures by December 6 in order to provoke an official response from the White House. As of today, the petition has collected just over 600 signatures. With only 25 days left, the petition is in strong need of attention in order to get a reply from the Obama Administration. However, acting Attorney General Eric Holder has said publicly that he would gladly reexamine how the drug is scheduled. Holder said:
“It is something that ultimately Congress would have to change, and I think that our administration would be glad to work with Congress if such a proposal were made.”
The timing is right for the Obama administration to make changes to marijuana’s classification, even though AG Eric Holder is on his way out of office. Marijuana support is at an all-time high in the United States and Washington D.C. just voted to legalize recreational marijuana. When President Obama appoints his new Attorney General, there is a strong chance that he will appoint someone who shares many views with Holder.
What does Congress think? Back in February, 18 congress members wrote a letter to Obama asking him to delist marijuana or “at the very least,” reclassify it to a Schedule II Drug. The newly elected Republican majority may prove to be detrimental to forward progress for the rescheduling, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. The tides of change are sweeping across the nation and whether it happens state-by-state or through federal action, marijuana policy will be changed. If you would like to make a difference you can sign the petition by clicking the banner below.
Photo Credit: Huffington Post
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:
- has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States
- has a high potential for abuse
- 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