U S: Federal Judge Weighing Constitutionality of Marijuana’s Classification
A federal judge in California is looking at constitutionality of marijuana’s schedule 1 classification along with heroin and LSD.
For 45 years now, cannabis has been erroneously classified as being among the most dangerous drugs in the world, with a high potential for abuse and no medical uses — the definition of a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, which was adopted as President Nixon’s War On Drugs kicked off.
U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller in Sacramento held a five-day fact-finding hearing on the classification question at the end of 2014, and with final arguments scheduled for February, her ruling is expected later this year, reports the Associated Press.
Judge Mueller’s decision to hold the hearing came after a pretrial defense motion in a federal case against accused marijuana growers.
Prosecutors unsuccessfully tried to block the fact-finding hearings.
Even if the judge rules against the federal classification of cannabis, it would apply only to the defendants in this particular case, and would almost certainly be appealed, according to The Los Angeles Times. It would take a ruling from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determining that the law is unconstitutional to affect all the Western states.
The defendants’ attorneys have argued that the federal marijuana law violates that Constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law, contending the government enforces the law unevenly, allowing the distribution of cannabis in states where it is legal and punishing it elsewhere.
The prosecution contends that Congress legally placed marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
Scientific understanding and societal acceptance of cannabis have grown since courts last looked at pot’s federal classification, according to Zenia K. Gilg, a lawyer for the growers. Gilg pointed to last November’s elections, in which Alaska and Oregon voters joined Colorado and Washington in making marijuana legal for adult recreational use.
About half of the states provide some legal protection for the use of cannabis as medicine. But prosecutors claimed in a January 7 brief that the evidence presented in the hearing at most “established that there is some dispute among doctors as to whether marijuana is medicine.”
By Steve Elliott