Federal Judge Considers Declaring Marijuana ‘Schedule I’ Status Unconstitutional

Schedule I classification mandates that the substance have “no currently accepted medical use,” as well as “a lack of accepted safety… under medical supervision.”
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    Jake Dimmock, of the Northwest Patient Resource Center medical marijuana dispensary, works with flowering plants in a grow room.  Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP

    A federal judge in Sacramento, California just heard closing arguments in a case that challenges the constitutionality of the federal government’s Schedule I classification for marijuana.

    The motion points out that a true schedule I substance is defined by a substance having a “high potential for abuse.”

    It also mandates that the substance have “no currently accepted medical use,” as well as “a lack of accepted safety… under medical supervision.”



    But all of that is completely untrue of marijuana. Thus, the motion argues that the status restricting the plant is unconstitutional.

    This marks the first time that a federal court has heard evidence like this since the early 1970s.  The case is United States v. Pickard, et. al., No. 2:11-CR-0449-KJM, and the legal briefs for it are all available online here.

    So what is the federal government arguing in its defense? Almost unbelievably, they are doubling down on the prohibitive status, saying that as long as there is even one “expert” who disputes the plant’s safety and efficacy for medicinal use, then the schedule I status should stand.

    The defense attorneys Zenia Gilg and Heather Burke of the NORML Legal Committee, along with experts in the field who argue that the plant is safe and should be legal at least for medical use, presented evidence over a five-day period. They contend that “numerous clinical trials have been conducted using whole plant marijuana and have concluded the evidence strongly suggests therapeutic value.

    “Physicians in 23 states and the District of Columbia have been recommending whole plant cannabis for treatment of a myriad of medical conditions. The United States, through SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of HHS), holds a patent [on the therapeutic utility of the plant],” they continued.

    “It is unimaginable to believe that if heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or even over-the-counter medications were being distributed in 23 states and the District of Columbia, Congress and the President would abdicate all regulatory authority to those jurisdictions, and then cut off all funds… to intervene in related distribution activities,” they added,“Even the most vivid imagination would be hard pressed to reconcile such action with a ‘rational belief’ that marijuana is one of the most dangerous drugs in the nation.”

    The brief further contends that “Congress’ decision to treat marijuana as a controlled substance was and remains well within the broad range of permissible legislative choices. Defendants appear to argue that Congress was wrong or incorrectly weighed the evidence. Although they failed to prove even that much, it would be insufficient. Rational basis review does not permit the Court’s to ‘second guess’ Congress’ conclusions, but only to enjoin decisions that are totally irrational or without an ‘imaginable’ basis.”

    Finally, they state that “Congress is not required to be ‘right,’ nor does it matter if the basis on which Congress made its decision turns out to be ‘wrong.’ All that is required is that Congress could rationally have believed that its action — banning the production and distribution of marijuana — would advance its indisputably legitimate interests in promoting public health and welfare. Because qualified experts disagree, it is not for the Courts to decide the issue and the statute must be upheld.”

    Copyright © 2015 — Counter Current News.
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    • Arielle Beckham

      Feds =greedy liars. It’s all about competition. For fuel, for pharmies, for lobbyists. Nothing but a racket. The people have spoken and they work for us not the other way around.

    • Chris Christian

      Another step taken – closing arguments – the government thinks that as they can pay just one somebody to say no, the judge should not overrule them – that was their final argument. Legal rulings are almost always based upon the preponderance of the evidence. I’ve heard some dumber arguments – but not many. I wish she’d RULE and get it over with LOL

    • Social Conservative

      Prohibitionists are mental midgets! Stop the crimes against humanity! Demand full legalization and nothing less!

    • ymygody

      working around and with drug addicts, I have been unfortunate enough to see some of the darker sides of heavier drugs. marijuana is most definitely not what I would consider to be a harder drug. it can be abused but it cannot hurt you. it’s time to end the war on drugs, the effects of which have been irrevocably destructive to many people’s lives.

    • Karen – Dallas

      STOP GOP terrorism against Marijuana consumers in America.
      Republicans are alcoholic hypocrites, bigots and racist thugs…

      • Jessica Hausman

        Seriously? Ur comment on their judging us is u judging another group of people- people who you obviously know nothing about. There are plenty of republicans who are all for legalization, even those planning on running for presidency, and plenty of democrats fighting it, who drink and act like hypocrits. Just a heads up- society is past all this title-calling, bigotry nonsense. It’s about the individuals now- the only person anyone should be trying to be better than is the person they were yesterday.

      • IJR

        Colorado Governor Hickenlooper, democrat, has always been against legalization. He made his millions selling beer.

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    • Simon Saez

      This would be terrific if this court rules cannabis’ schedule 1 status unconstitutional, as it most certainly is.

      • Abolish Holders OftheLight

        it will get appealed and it will go on for years.

        • Jessica Hausman

          Not necessarily that long- it’s moving pretty quickly now that people are realizing how ridiculous this all is.

    • mehoppe

      Plus Hemp was also outlawed and has no THC in it. Was going to be the first billion dollar production plant before being outlawed. (Popular Mechanics 1938) http://www.hemp-technologies.com/page33/page33.html

    • Jeff deutsch

      The current situation is NUTS. Marijuana is an incredibly safe and effective medication for a wide range of conditions and has been used for thousands of years without a single fatality. It should never have been made illegal in the first place and should have been removed from Schedule 1 decades ago. Please call the white house comment line at (202) 456-1111 and ask that the President get it removed from the DEA schedules immediately. The DEA has better things to do than stopping Cancer patients and kids with seizures from having safe, legal access to a life saving medication with an unmatched safety profile. Tobacco should be on Schedule 1. Marijuana should be “over the counter”