Federal Lawsuit Argues Marijuana’s Schedule I Status is Unconstitutional

intersection of government and public opinion on cannabis

(From the archives)

A new marijuana lawsuit has been brought against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and acting DEA administrator Charles Rosenberg claiming cannabis’s status as a Schedule I drug is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was brought forth by five plaintiffs, including two children who use medical marijuana, an Iraq war veteran with PTSD, a non-profit organization, and a former NFL player.

As with any legal matter, the issue isn’t cut and dry. The lawsuit brings forth several arguments for why the current Schedule I status is unconstitutional. But, you have better things to do than read through thousands of words of legalese. So, let’s take a quick look at the main points in the lawsuit and what would happen if the courts declared the current Schedule I status of cannabis as unconstitutional.

The Government Doesn’t Believe Marijuana Meets the Requirements to Be Schedule I

The almost 90-page complaint alleges the Federal Government does not and never has believed that marijuana meets the three criteria to qualify it as a Schedule I drug.

  1. High potential for abuse
  2. No accepted medical use
  3. No ability to be used or tested safely, even under medical supervision

If marijuana doesn’t fit the criteria of a Schedule I drug, then its ongoing classification as a Schedule I drug must be declared unconstitutional, according to the suit.

“Indeed, the Federal Government has admitted repeatedly in writing, and implemented national policy reflecting, that Cannabis does, in fact, have medical uses and can be used and tested safely under medical supervision.”

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Was Enacted to Suppress Rights of African Americans and Protestors

The lawsuit says the CSA was implemented “not to control the spread of a dangerous drug, but rather to suppress the rights and interests of those whom the Nixon Administration wrongly regarded as hostile to the interests of the United States – African Americans and protestors of the Vietnam War.”

By targeting cannabis – a popular drug among both groups – the government had an excuse to raid, arrest, and prosecute these individuals and communities at a disproportionate rate without needing to provide justification.

The CSA Takes Away Rights of Medical Marijuana Patients

Studies have shown how effective cannabis can be in treating a variety of medical conditions, including PTSD, epilepsy, and chronic pain. Many individuals and families rely on medical cannabis as a way to find relief and increase quality of life. And more than half the states in the nation have legalized medical marijuana.

The Controlled Substances Act prevents medical marijuana patients from freely traveling with their medicine. They can’t fly. They can’t drive through states that haven’t legalized medical marijuana. And for military veterans or family members of veterans, they can’t always access the benefits they’re due for their service.

In the end, the lawsuit’s many claims boil down to one simple argument: the Schedule I status of cannabis is irrational and unconstitutional.

You can read the full complaint text and a developing overview of the lawsuit at The Cannabist.

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