Four American citizens and one organization have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the classification of marijuana as having no medical value, specifically naming U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and DEA head Chuck Rosenberg as Defendants.
Marijuana, or cannabis, is federally classified under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as a Schedule 1 narcotic substance with no medicinal value. “Meth and cocaine are schedule II drugs and thus considered more benign than marijuana under the law,” said the New York Times.
Nearly 30 U.S. states have enacted medical marijuana programs for their citizens. The contradiction has been challenged by marijuana law reform advocated and organizations repeatedly, and earlier in 2017 Rosenberg issued a definitive rejection of reclassification based on information received by the National Institutes of Health.
The Plaintiffs seek the removal of cannabis from the controlled substances list entirely, not just a reclassification to a lesser Schedule status.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are:
- Jose Belen, described by Culture Magazine as “a disabled military veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
- Parents on behalf of Alexis Bortell, an 11-year-old boy with epilepsy per Culture
- Parents on behalf of Jagger Cotte, described as an infant
- Retired National Football League player Marvin Washington
- Cannabis Cultural Association, Inc.
Defendants in the suit are Sessions, Rosenberg, the DEA, the U.S. Justice Department and the United States of America.
The 89-page federal lawsuit filing was made by attorneys for the group on Monday in the Southern District of New York.
The Cannabis Cultural Association is a NY-based non-profit company “which helps marginalized and underrepresented communities engage in the legal cannabis industry, emphasizing criminal justice reform, access to medical cannabis, and adult use legalization,” per the group’s website. They support the Start SMART NY cannabis legalization effort in New York State.
Washington ended his NFL career in 1999. “Washington said he is suing because the CSA doesn’t allow him to obtain federal grants to open a business that would allow pro NFL players to use medical cannabis instead of deadly opioids,” per the New York Times report.
“Although not styled as a class action, this lawsuit stands to benefit tens of millions of Americans who require, but are unable to safely obtain, Cannabis for the treatment of their illnesses, diseases and medical conditions, the successful treatment of which is dependent upon its curative properties,” reads the first paragraph of the lawsuit. “In addition, this lawsuit, if successful, would aid in the restoration of communities hardest hit and most egregiously stigmatized by the Federal Government’s misguided and Crusades-like “War on Drugs.””
The filing reads, in part, “the CSA, as it pertains to Cannabis, constitutes an unconstitutional exercise of power not authorized by the Constitution.”
WHEREFORE, for the reasons stated, Plaintiffs demand judgment, over and against Defendants, declaring the CSA as it pertains to the cultivation, distribution, marketing, sale, prescription and use of Cannabis, unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, the Right to Travel, and the Commerce Clause, together with: (i) a permanent injunction (and temporary relief if so required), restraining Defendants from enforcing the CSA as it pertains to Cannabis; (ii) reasonable legal fees and costs pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. §2412, insofar as the Federal Government cannot maintain its position on the existing record that continued enforcement of the CSA as it pertains to Cannabis is “substantially justified;” and (iii) any and all other and further relief this Court deems just and proper.
Read the actual federal filing at the national NORML website by clicking the link HERE.