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Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Federal Pot Policy

by Countable | 2.27.18

UPDATE: February 27, 2018: A Federal District Court in Manhattan has dismissed a request to change marijuana's Schedule I classification. The lawsuit had sought to legalize cannabis under federal law.

The judge ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to take the necessary first step of asking the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to remove pot from its list of dangerous substances.

“As such, plaintiffs' claim is barred because plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies,” the judge wrote.

Read Countable's original story below.


What’s the story?

Opening arguments have begun in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of classifying marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)—the same class as LSD, meth, and heroin.

"Classifying cannabis as a ‘Schedule I drug’ is so irrational that it violates the U.S. Constitution," the 98-page suit argues. Schedule I drugs are those with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

Why does it matter?

The suit was filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan in July against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The plaintiffs include former NFL player Marvin Washington, the co-founder of a hemp-based sports performance product company; a 12-year-old who takes marijuana to control her epilepsy; and Jose Belen, an Iraq War veteran who uses marijuana for his PTSD.

"Once I did use cannabis, immediately I felt the relief," said Belen. "I went to Iraq to free the oppressed and I view this no different. The oppression is only being done by our own government."

Besides a host of constitutional arguments, the lawsuit presents a historical world tour of marijuana use and includes quotes by the Founding Fathers on their use of the drug. James Madison credited "sweet hemp" for giving him “insight to create a new and democratic nation,” according to the suit.

Government attorneys are expected to argue that the law is well-grounded and the case should be dismissed. In an earlier court filing, the lawyers said the Trump administration "uniformly rejects the notion that there is a fundamental right to use marijuana, including for medical purposes."

What do you think?

Should marijuana remain a Schedule I drug? Is there "a fundamental right to use marijuana"? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

Related Reading

(Photo Credit: Bill Oxford / iStock)

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(118)
  • Tammy
    02/14/2018
    ···

    Marijuana is an herb!!! It is not processed!!! It is simply dried and smoked. It is also a natural healer of cancer and epilepsy and ADHD. The hemp plant is exceptional in making paper and clothing. Do not dare categorize this herb with class 1 drugs. Please site how this herb has ever caused harm! Alcohol and prescribed drugs harm. Marijuana does not!!!

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  • Leo
    02/14/2018
    ···

    Schedule one drugs are said to have no medicinal value. Marijuana obviously has medicinal value. Therefore, it should not be on the schedule one list. Simple isn’t it.

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  • SirRobert
    02/14/2018
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    The war on Marijuana has ruined the lives of millions of people and their families lives. I can only imagine the Trillions of dollars that went into arrests, courts, private prisons, etc. state by state the country is being decriminalized. Take Marijuana off of schedule 1 and end the war.

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  • Robert
    02/14/2018
    ···

    Marijuana is the only drug on the schedule one list that isn’t addictive. Alcohol is not on the list and it is addictive. Wonder which one is spending more money on lobbying Washington DC politicians?

    Like (45)
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  • Darragh
    02/14/2018
    ···

    I am a ferocious republican but even I see that pot should not be seen as a dangerous drug and should be legal to all extent.

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  • AnonymousPatron
    02/14/2018
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    Finally! Marijuana has been used for Millenia as a medicinal herb. There are American studies (by doctors who have had patients using the herb for years) that probe that it is not addictive as the Schedule 1 drugs heroin or opium etc. it needs to be removed from being a Schedule 1 drug.

    Like (33)
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  • John
    02/14/2018
    ···

    Much ado about nothing. Marijuana has medicinal value and doctors should be allowed to prescribe it when medically necessary. As for recreational marijuana, it should be treated in the same capacity as alcohol. There’s no way his herb is even closely related to schedule 1 drugs.

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  • Dana
    02/14/2018
    ···

    I personally do not use marijuana but I know several people that say it really helps cancer patients and chronic pain patients. I remember a pediatric surgeon, that I’ve worked with, tell me a patient’s family asked if he would write a prescription for marijuana for their child to help ease the symptoms of the child’s cancer. He said that It wasn’t legal in Georgia. The poor child was in a lot of pain and had nausea real bad because of the chemo. Narcotic pain meds made him even sicker due to the side effects. Zofran (nausea Med for cancer patients) didn’t really help. Marijuana should at the very least be legal on the federal level for medical purposes. That child had tried marijuana in another state where it was legal for medical purposes. It is safer than narcotic pain meds. Legalizing it could possibly help with opioid epidemic and definitely help with the war on drugs at our borders. The taxes from regulating marijuana would be huge. I, myself, is more concerned with its medical purposes especially in regards to working with children with cancer. Please be open-minded and vote to at least legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. Thank you!

    Like (29)
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  • Andrew
    02/14/2018
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    The states have spoken. The Feds need to focus on what is in the best interest of National good not petty politics by a political hack that is over his head and out of touch. This is costing tax payers to much money. Enough.

    Like (21)
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  • CannabisSavedMe
    02/15/2018
    ···

    I suffer from a rare disorder called Dercums Disease an auto immune/adipose tissue disorder rated number 2 in the top 10 most painful disorders according to MDJunction.com. I was hooked on doctor prescribed opiates that really didn’t help for over six years. When I started using cannabis to help combat the terrible side effects of this prescribed medicine I was “discharged” from my doctors office and banned from any affiliated practices. Forced to go cold turkey from this terribly addictive and dangerous medicine I was forced to mail order them from China online rather than go to the street for heroin. I finally found a doctor who would treat me being a cannabis user and found me eligible for the New York State Medical Marijuana program in April of 2017. The cannabis helped me to get off the pharmaceutical dope I was so badly addicted to and offered some real relief. I use cannabis to combat the chronic pain and swelling caused by this extremely painful disease. Cannabis has saved my life and can save millions more. We must federally legalize cannabis for the sake of our entire nation, for our children and theirs!

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  • Samuel
    02/14/2018
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    Legalize pot

    Like (20)
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  • RadicalModerate
    02/14/2018
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    It’s my right to use cannabis.

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  • RickEberhardt
    02/15/2018
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    It is time that our representatives faced the facts just like they did when they reversed prohibition. The American people have spoken. Your constituents have spoken. Marijuana is less addictive than any of the opiates that are being marketed for the medical qualities. So why is it illegal? Is it because big pharmaceutical companies don’t have the market cornered? Is it because not enough politicians have received their kickback? Give Americans the freedom to choose this just like you gave Americans the freedom to drink and smoke themselves to death. The war on drugs is better fought against the criminals making all the money on an illicit drug that should be legal. Al Capone would have gotten into the drug trade it’s so lucrative.

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  • Tee'ya
    02/15/2018
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    It does not have the same effect on your body as the other drugs! This is just another way to keep big pharmacies and prisons running!

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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    02/15/2018
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    The classification of Marijuana as a schedule I drug started out as a Conservative oppressive tactic and remains a tool for Conservative oppression upon the citizens of the United States. If we were to abolish and outlaw conservatism in the United States, then and only then, Could we live with true freedoms and as a free society as we profess to be......... To be continued.....

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  • Pru
    02/14/2018
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    Legalize marijuana, it has great medicinal value. Go after heroin, meth and opioids.

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  • Guy
    02/15/2018
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    Alcohol is addictive and has no medical use. It kills people everyday. Likewise for tobacco. Marijuana does not kill people and does have medical use. Let’s get real here.

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  • Emma
    02/14/2018
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    Marijuana should not be schedule I. Even if you won’t accept the medical arguments. At least recognize the ability of the industry to benefit local economies substantially.

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  • Seth
    02/15/2018
    ···

    There are multiple cases where marijuana has made a life-changing difference for people suffering from crippling illnesses. Classifying marijuana as a dangerous drug that has no benefit is wrong, and this can easily be (and has been) confirmed. The fact that lawmakers in this country, and law enforcement in coordination with them, continue to push antiquated policies that do much more harm than good (if any) is endlessly frustrating. We also know that these laws and policies disproportionately affect minorities. My hope is that we could look to states like Colorado, instead of suing them for “sending drugs into our state”, as examples of marijuana legalization working very well.

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  • J charles
    02/15/2018
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    I believe this is the only way the government will change their misguided beliefs on the issue. I do not understand how after all these years this has not been changed. There is proof that this is helpful in several different medical situations. I think BIG PHARMACEUTICAL and possibly the Alcohol industry have to many lobbyists and politicians in their pockets for the government to make a change. It will take the people telling the government what to do instead of the government telling the people what to do. Marijuana has been and always will be a part of the American culture. It is time for government to listen to the people! Tax it, regulate it and move on. The people will prosper if they legalize this and add a new industry to the whole American economy.

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