Medical marijuana advocates will soon get their day in federal court. The United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit have agreed to hear the oral argument in the lawsuit, “Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration”. Since the group formed in 2002, Americans for Safe Access have been fighting for medical marijuana patients rights, to help the public learn the therapeutic value of marijuana, and to change public policy surrounding it.
The present lawsuit challenges the federal government’s schedule one classification of marijuana, which defines it as something dangerous with no medicinal value. This historic court case will allow the plaintiffs to present to the courts for review scientific evidence regarding the therapeutic values of cannabis. Those oral arguments will begin on Tuesday, October 16th at 9:30am. Joe Elford, the chief counsel for the ASA applauded the decision to hear the case, saying what is at stake is nothing less than our country’s scientific integrity and the imminent needs of millions of patients.
The case will be heard ten years after the Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis filed a similar petition in 2002. Many agencies are involved in the process to reclassify controlled substances, but the DEA is the final arbiter on petitions to reclassify controlled substances. They hadn’t gotten around to dismissing that 2002 case until January of 2011. That gave the ASA a chance to file their lawsuit to force the DEA on the issue. The ASA’s case has gained even more ground since they filed it over a year ago. Just weeks ago a group of researchers published a study in the Open Neurology Journal that found marijuana’s schedule one classification was “not tenable” and concluded that it was not accurate that cannabis had no medical value, or that information on safety was lacking. They found that the classification of marijuana and the political controversy surrounding it were obstacles to medical progress. Not that they needed any more ammunition. The ASA appeal brief charges the federal government has acted arbitrarily and capriciously in its efforts to deny marijuana to millions of patients throughout the U.S. For the last year the Justice Department has been escalating raids of medical marijuana dispensaries clearly within state law. There are dozens of brand new indictments and prosecutions from US Attorneys.
A positive outcome in this suit would give federal medical marijuana patients a right to a medical necessity defense. The lawsuit claims 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. They are urging the appellate court to “require the DEA to analyze the scientific data evenhandedly, and order a hearing and findings based on the scientific record.”