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Marijuana Scheduling Finally Gets Day in Court

Medical Marijuana Patients Get Their Day In Federal Court With The Obama Administration

Late last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed to hear oral arguments in Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration, a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value. Ten years after the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) filed its petition, the courts will finally review the scientific evidence regarding the therapeutic value of marijuana. The D.C. Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments on October 16th at 9:30am. […]

The ASA appeal brief asserts that the federal government has acted arbitrarily and capriciously in its efforts to deny marijuana to millions of patients throughout the U.S. ASA argues in its  brief that the DEA has no “license to apply different criteria to marijuana than to other drugs, ignore critical scientific data, misrepresent social science research, or rely upon unsubstantiated assumptions, as the DEA has done in this case.” ASA is urging the court to “require the DEA to analyze the scientific data evenhandedly,” and order “a hearing and findings based on the scientific record.” The panel of judges assigned to hear oral arguments includes Circuit Judges Henderson and Garland, and Senior Circuit Judge Edwards.

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46 comments to Marijuana Scheduling Finally Gets Day in Court

  • DonDig

    Hallelujah!
    (But they’ll still probably claim there’s no evidence to institute a change.)
    At least we all know better.
    Progress at whatever pace is still progress, and the writing is on the wall.
    Thanks for all you’re doing Pete, (and everyone). This place is a beacon of sanity.

    • Bobby Denning

      I would like to know what is acceptable to these corrupt people , because nothing seems good enough. They will not agree to anything and I want to know why. I would like to see what is acceptable according to them , not that they can speak for all people.

  • claygooding

    I was telling Tony that the first hearing on marijuana in 1988 was an appeal hearing at the DEA,,not in a federal court and that was why the DEA could ignore the ruling,,however,,can the ASA use that hearing as proof of the DEA’s arbitrary continued scheduling by ignoring the ruling?

  • darkcycle

    Hey, sorry to launch Off Topic so early, but the U.S. Parole Commission just raided Bobby Tuna’s house in the middle of the night to make him pee in a jar. (He’s 69 years old. Just what sort of a shitbag LEANS on a septuagenarian old man?) Write or call the parole commission, they’re trying to kill the Silver Tour because it’s effective:
    http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2012/07/call_to_action_stop_the_feds_from_silencing_robert.php

  • knowa

    This is important The Hijacking of our rights by the DEA and their self serving jobs program is Treasonous. There is no end to the evils this agency is doing,has done or will do to keep this fraud going. History will prove that America has been on the wrong side of science and truth. The most patriotic thing American can do is to make sure its disicion is open and transparent.

  • Tony Aroma

    This is exactly what happened before. First to a federal court of appeals, then to an administrative law judge, then to the DEA who ignored all the judges.

    The exact same thing that will happen this time. Here’s the pertinent info from Judge Young’s decision (1988):

    On September 1, 1972 the Director of BNDD announced his refusal to
    accept the petition for filing, stating that he was not authorized to
    institute proceedings for the action requested because of the provisions
    of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961. NORML appealed this
    action to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
    Circuit. The court held that the Director had erred in rejecting the
    petition without “a reflective consideration and analysis,” observing
    that the Director’s refusal “was not the kind of agency action that
    promoted the kind of interchange and refinement of views that is the
    lifeblood of a sound administrative process.” NORML v. Ingersoll, 162
    U.S. App. D.C. 67, 497 F.2d 654, 659 (1974). The court remanded the
    matter in January 1974 for further proceedings not inconsistent with its
    opinion, “to be denominated a consideration on the merits.” Id.

    A three-day hearing was held at DEA [footnote 2] by Administrative
    Law Judge Lewis Parker in January 1975. The judge found in NORML’s favor
    on several issues but the Acting Administrator of DEA entered a final
    order denying NORML’s petition “in all respects.” NORML again petitioned
    the court for review.

    If they rely on a preponderance of evidence to support medical use, as has failed before, history will repeat itself. The challenge to the DEA’s decision should instead be the egregious conflict of interest. Since the AG delegated the power over scheduling to the DEA, they both make and enforce the drug laws. The DEA’s entire reason for being is the existence of Schedule 1 drugs. If the DEA could be removed from the decision-making process, science might have a chance.

    • knowa

      I agree the fact that the DEA chooses to make and inforce their own laws is a conflict interest. The truth is that re classifying MMJ and industrial Hemp is redundancy of 80% of their mission.

    • darkcycle

      It’ll be much harder to ignore this one, the hearing with Judge Young was an administrative hearing. This ruling presumably would be binding. That does not mean they won’t try to ignore it anyway. Then they’ll try creative reinterpretation. Then, after three judges order them to comply, then, and only then would they potentially change their song.
      But this one is supposedly for all the beans.

  • darkcycle

    We know the outcome of a fair hearing of the evidence already. The open question is will they be able to ignore this judge the way they ignored Judge Young?

  • N.T. Greene

    It is going to be a lot harder for them to just ignore this ruling, what with all the furor surrounding the treatment of MM patients this year.

    It is also quite a lot harder to claim “no accepted medical use” with a growing number of states thinking the complete opposite.

  • Rookie

    If any thing comes of this I believe pigs will fly.. In other words.. More of the same Government BS.. Urine testing, Job Loss, Lawsuits, Control of the People. That is what this whole issue is about in my opinion and those with the power will not give it up ever…

  • n.t. greene

    I still think timing is everything. The DEA has been looking pretty foolish as of late, and with the election closing in fast… this could be a serious issue. If the DEA loses, it has the potential to really open the floodgates.

    I do hope that conflict of interest is pointed out, though. Anyone friends with anyone from ASA?

    • Duncan20903

      Well I’ve never met anyone named Duncan that I didn’t get along with. There just aren’t that many of us.

  • Mary Warner

    If this case is successful, it will be because Carl Olsen has signed on as Intervenor. Read the CSA: the president cannot change the regulations because the governing body (‘administrative agency’) is your state. 17 states have failed to notify the US Attorney General to remove marijuana from schedule I when marijuana was declared medicine in these states. Marijuana remains in schedule I because your state failed to perform its administrative duty. That’s where the problem is. Learn more: http://facebook.com/Ganja-Law

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      4 States (Oregon, Iowa, Alaska and Montana) & DC have made cannabis schedule II, . Each State maintains its own naughty list under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. If the classification is stricter than the Federal scheduling the State classification rules, if less restrictive then Federal law does. E.g. pseudoephedrine is schedule III in Oregon and Mississippi and therefore requires a prescription in those States.
      http://www.theweedblog.com/oregon-moves-marijuana-from-schedule-i-to-schedule-ii/

      I admit that for a long time I’ve been wondering why the California activists have never tried to get Cannabis off of California’s schedule I. Both Washington and Maryland have come close through their respective Legislatures.

      3 States (Washington, Colorado and Rhode Island) have indeed asked the Feds to re-schedule cannabis. Again, I have no clue why these States ask the Feds to change the scheduling without bothering to change their own scheduling. The request would be much more compelling if these States would walk the walk instead of just talking the talk.
      http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_19634321
      http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/health/story/2011-12-01/2-states-want-US-to-reclassify-marijuana/51544238/1

      • David L. Marsh Sr.

        Duncan…. The Iowa Board of Pharmacy has recommended schedule II, however the Legislature has failed to act. There may be some confusion as the code does list Schedule II subject to medical rules issued by the Board of Pharmacy…. The rules were never promulgated…. Still Schedule I here…

  • n.t. greene

    Naysayers should read the actual brief, by the way. They’re attacking the DEA where they are actually vulnerable, as they are essentially breaking their own regulations.

  • Tony Aroma

    And what if they do win? Marijuana will be a schedule 2 drug, just like morphine. In other words, produced by pharmaceutical companies and dispensed by pharmacies. People aren’t allowed to grow/produce their own Schedule 2 drugs any more than they are Schedule 1 drugs. Nor are they allowed to possess them without a prescription. A favorable result would wipe out the mmj industry that exists today, and still put us no closer to legalization. Be careful what you wish for.

    • claygooding

      It removes the DEA/NIDA control of what studies are allowed on marijuana and the government’s marijuana being used in those tests and research,,that means actual medical studies done on AfghanistanWaterBuffaloscrewingcheetah instead of the governments ditch weed.

      It also removes marijuana from the ONDCP,s “anything necessary” list.

    • darkcycle

      Tony, if they are forced to acknowledge the science and provide justification for keeping marijuana as a schedule medicine, they must drop it from the schedule altogether. It’s addictiveness is on par with Caffeine and way below tobacco. It has no potential for overdose, and it has no dangerous side effects. It doesn’t belong in the schedule at all.

      • David L. Marsh Sr.

        darkcycle, I agree. If “accepted medical use in the United States” precipitates removal from Schedule I cannabis must go through the administrative process to determine which Schedule is appropriate….The answer is.. None of them.

    • Common Science

      Here, here. If we can witness the blasting of the CSA grip on marijuana in class one, we will be hard pressed to remember how short a timeframe it was in either class two or three – if at all. Just that first transfer will empower any and all well organized non-governmental organizations to start working to help guide the transfer of cannabis policy to more evidence-based applications. The world is tiring of raving prohibitionist utterances and won’t be fooled by the maniacal clapping of that lone person at the back of the church.

      Only five years ago the British NGO foundation, Transform Drug Policy was the first one to call for drug law reform, and now enjoys special consultative status at the United Nations.

      • Matthew Meyer

        I hope you are right, CS. But it’s not hard to imagine cannabis going to schedule II and a big pharma push to control the market.

        Where I see this differently from some folks is that I think that, as a practical matter, removing cannabis from schedule I will very much curtail the enforcement of cannabis prohibition, as there will just not be the political will there to keep spending billions each year on enforcement.

        Such a situation could be tough for people who want to hold their head up and buy cannabis openly in storefront establishments, but it might actually be a good thing for mom and pop growers.

        • Tony Aroma

          Cocaine and amphetamine are Schedule 2 controlled substances, and their prohibition is vigorously enforced.

        • darkcycle

          The objective facts are that refined cocaine and amphetamine are both highly addictive and have the potential for fatal overdose. There is a solid argument to be made that that classification is justified. Where’s the argument for keeping marijuana in the schedule at all?

        • Matthew Meyer

          Tony, cocaine and meth are different substances, both in the public eye and in their sources and means of production.

          Half of the population does not think that either of these drugs should be available for adult enjoyable use, whereas they think this of cannabis.

          Yes, it’s possible that cannabis would go to schedule II but we’d continue to spend billions yearly to combat it. I just don’t think that’s likely.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      I’m more concerned that the sick in this country have access to needed medicine than that they be able to grow it. I’ve never understood why people are so against the pharmaceutical companies producing pharmaceuticals. It’s nonsense like this that gets us accused of using medicinal cannabis as a “stalking horse” for re-legalization. Let’s ask Irv Rosenfeld if he’d rather not have his medicine than get his low quality bunk weed from the Feds, shall we?

      Of course being on Federal schedule II doesn’t even guarantee availability of a medicine, even for animals. PCP is still in Federal schedule II but despite that designation there are no companies manufacturing it or veterinarians prescribing it for their patients. PCP was never authorized for human use.
      http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/scheduling.html

      • Matthew Meyer

        Well, the dirty little secret is that, in fact, cannabis is not like any other pharmaceutical. It is an herb that is not standardized and not based on known quantities of a single substance.

        It is more comparable to opium poppies or coca leaves than to heroin or cocaine, and the truth is that none of these plants belong in drug schedules.

        Personally, I have no problem with pharmaceutical companies developing proper cannabinoid pharmaceuticals, as long as people who prefer the whole plant herb can grow it and buy it without penalty.

        • darkcycle

          And it’s closer to Rosemary or Sage than it is to Opium or Coca.

        • Duncan20903

          .
          .

          So Matthew, in the alternative you’re OK with letting the sick suffer. Duly noted. When I was growing up my parents drilled into me that the needs of the sick supersede the needs of the healthy, and I just can’t shake that belief. Not that I have tried, or ever will try to do so.

        • Matthew Meyer

          Duncan, I’m really surprised you got cold-heartedness out of my comment. And it is not entirely clear what you mean by pharmaceutical companies making pharmaceuticals.

          One reading is that you’re fine with GW Pharma having the market and everyone else going to jail. But I doubt you mean that. Maybe you can explain.

          An important point about cannabis as medicine is that it may not in fact be possible to put a variable herb in the current system. It might make sense to produce standardized pharmaceuticals like Sativex and more processed or altered cannabinoid forms.

          But it would be wrong to conclude that it’s therefore ok for the state to continue to put people in jail for herbal cannabis.

  • N.T. Greene

    I think if this domino ends up falling, it could bring consequences that reach much farther than just weed. And as it stands, that case looks pretty good.

    Again, actually read what it is claiming.

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .

    Today the Michigan Court of Appeals struck down a Wyoming, MI local ordinance that attempted to make an end run around the Michigan medicinal cannabis patient protection law.

    “The appeals court said Michigan and federal law did not conflict because the voter-approved statute expressly acknowledged the federal marijuana prohibition while providing an exemption for its cultivation and use under state law.

    Congress can criminalize all uses of medical marijuana, (but) it cannot require the state to do the same,” the courts said.” linky

  • darkcycle

    Holy crap. Man found in possession of cannabis shot in police custody. Searched twice, and cuffed with his hands behind him in the back of a patrol car. The cops claim it was suicide. Oh, and he was shot in the right temple, but he was left handed. And they’re likely to walk, just like they always do.
    http://www.alternet.org/hot-news-views/handcuffed-marijuana-offender-shot-killed-police-car

  • Duncan20903

    Those rascally potheads in San Diego certainly have a good sense of humor.
    MEDICAL POT GROUP PLAYS HOAX ON U.S. ATTORNEY