Medical Marijuana

Federal Appeals Court Hears Challenge to Marijuana's Legal Status

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Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in a case challenging the Drug Enforcement Administration's refusal to reclassify marijuana so it can be legally used as a medicine. Since 1970, when Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana has remained on Schedule I, a category supposedly reserved for drugs with a high abuse potential and no accepted medical value that cannot be used safely even under a doctor's supervision. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) first challenged marijuana's legal status in 1972, eventually winning the support of an administrative law judge, Francis Young, who in 1988 declared it "abundantly clear" that the drug has "a currently accepted medical use." Young, who called marijuana "one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man," was overruled by DEA Administrator John Lawn. In 1995 former NORML Executive Director Jon Gettman filed a second rescheduling petition, focusing on marijuana's abuse potential, which the DEA rejected in 2001. The latest petition, filed a year later by a coalition of activists, cited state laws allowing patients to use marijuana as well as recent research confirming its therapeutic value. As usual, the DEA dragged its feet, finally rejecting the petition last year. Now Americans for Safe Access is appealing that decision.

This is the first time in nearly two decades that a federal appeals court has heard arguments about marijuana's Schedule I status, which a group of researchers at the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research politely called "untenable" in a recent review of the literature. Perhaps more than any other policy, the Obama administration's continued defense of this classification, which puts marijuana in a more restrictive category than cocaine, morphine, or methamphetamine, belies the president's avowed commitment to sound, unpoliticized science. California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer notes that the DEA "summarily discounted substantial scientific evidence showing that cannabis has medical efficacy." He says the agency insists that "only expensive, 'Phase 3' FDA efficacy studies are acceptable, while at the same making such studies impossible by blocking approval of the necessary research facilities." Although other Schedule I drugs are produced by private, DEA-licensed labs, when it comes to marijuana the agency has refused to allow competition with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, researchers' only legal source of the drug. That policy is also the target of federal litigation.  

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  1. [Judge] Young, who called marijuana “one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man,” was overruled by DEA Administrator John Lawn.

    Fucking separation of powers, how does it work?

    1. Don’t let the term “judge” throw you. Officials like Young are subject to review by executive-branch members, hence not really judges in the strict Constitutional sense, though it’s telling that people use that terminology.

      Ideally, a judge would be entitled to make the final decision in a dispute, subject only to (a) a jury or (b) other judges. In reality, of course, even the real judges are supposed to give lots of “deference” to the executive on these kinds of issues.

  2. Almost none of the drugs in schedule one actually meet the criteria for being there. LSD is one of the safest psychoactives known to man, and has well established psychotheraputic value. Same goes for psylocybin mushrooms. Heroin (Diacetylmorphine) is really no more dangerous than any other synthetic opioid, and it’s analgesic qualities make it clearly have medical value. MDMA also has a very high LD50, to claim that it can’t be taken safely with a doctor’s supervision is absurd. Hell with an accurate enough scale PCP can be taken safely with a doctor’s supervision. Almost every single drug on schedule 1 is there because of cultural stigma and political pressure.

    1. The entire definition of schedule I is BS. There is no substance that can’t be safely taken with the advice of a doctor.

      e.g.

      Molybdenum-99 = releases significant gamma radiation. Used in cancer therapy.

      Cyanide = extremely poisonous. Used in emergency medical situations to rapidly decrease blood pressure.

      And anyone can say with a straight face that Cannabis, MDMA, LSD etc. are too dangerous to be used under the supervision of a medical doctor?

      1. Anything over 16oz is bad for you. Ban engaged!

      2. There’s a Sinclair quote relevant to this…

        1. “Turn off engine before fueling”?

      3. Actually there’s a whole mess of substances that can’t be safely taken even with doctor supervision (battery acid, plutonium, lye etc.) except none of those substances are on the schedule.

        1. True, they’re not on that schedule. Turns out “controlled substance” is a term of art in federal legislation that extends to various types of materials according to different statutes. Chlorofluorocarbons are controlled substances in one bit of legislation, radionuclides in another, etc.

  3. This is the first time in nearly two decades that a federal appeals court has heard arguments about marijuana’s Schedule I status, which a group of researchers at the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research politely called “untenable” in a recent review of the literature. Perhaps more than any other policy, the Obama administration’s continued defense of this classification, which puts marijuana in a more restrictive category than cocaine, morphine, or methamphetamine, belies the president’s avowed commitment to sound, unpoliticized science.

    Couple things here.

    1. So, how about a Schedule II designation?

    2. Are we going to get the gay marriage routine on drugs from the Obama administration? He fought it because the established rule of law made him do it, but at some point he’ll roll over and be the First Gay Stoner President?

  4. How the hell do these fucks live with themselves and the damage they cause to the country? They absolutely have world class abilities of delusion. I’m usually pretty good at understanding other people’s opinions but on this I simply cannot fathom how they can sleep at night.

    1. “…on this I simply cannot fathom how they can sleep at night.”

      Ambien. It’s a mild narcotic.

    2. Your error is the assumption that they are where they are for the purpose of serving the public. This is, at best, optimistic.

      They are where they are to serve corporate interests. In this case, the alcohol, tobacco and prison industries. By exerting power in their stead, decision-making government actors (and so their families) receive considerable rewards, favors and advantages — and I assure you, they all sleep just fine.

      The government is 100% corrupt, right down to its very foundation. Follow the money, and if you can, use the money, or you’re doomed to be bewildered.

  5. Sounds like a very good deal to me dude, I like it.

    http://www.at-privacy.tk

    1. How can you flag these SPAM/VIRUS bullshits?

  6. Note that the Young document says “DATED: SEP 6 1988” not 1991. I’m surprised to see the later date cited. Is there some reason for that?

  7. Not to feed the conspiracy theorists, but it occurs to me to wonder, if the theorists were right about there being some big plot to drug the American people into complacency…

    If cannabis were an effective antidote to whatever it was, that would definitely explain why so many government officials are so gung ho about getting rid of the stuff despite all evidence of how harmless and beneficial it is.

  8. THE REPORT. CANNABIS: THE FACTS, HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE LAW
    ISBN 9781902848204.

    Denial of cannabis by Prohibition ‘law’ premeditatedly inflicts suffering, blindness, and, in many instances, death. Those who maintain any use of life-saving cannabis to be “illegal” should be regarded and treated as perpetrators of the gravest of crimes, and deemed unfit to hold any public office in a democratic society.

    Die Verweigerung von Cannabis durch das Prohibitions-Gesetz verursacht vors?tzlich Leiden, Blindheit und fuehrt in vielen F?llen zum Tod. Diejenigen, die das Verbot der Verwendung von lebensrettenden Cannabis als “illegal” zu halten betrachten, sollten behandelt werden wie ein T?ter des schwersten Verbrechens und als ungeeignet angesehen werden ein ?ffentliches Amt in einer demokratischen Gesellschaft zu fuehren.

  9. “Arbitrary and capricious” is legal language that was used by DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young in 1988 to conclude that DEA was obligated under the Controlled Substances Act to reschedule marijuana as a prescription medicine. DEA Chief Administrator Robert Bonner proceeded to arbitrarily and capriciously disregard Judge Young’s well researched and reasoned decision, which the Act allowed him to do.

    Shame on the Drug Worrier Profiteers ?ref linx

    The vast majority of prohibitionists
    profit on the drug war,..
    … and that is their only motive.

  10. “Arbitrary and capricious” is legal language that was used by DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young in 1988 to conclude that DEA was obligated under the Controlled Substances Act to reschedule marijuana as a prescription medicine. DEA Chief Administrator Robert Bonner proceeded to arbitrarily and capriciously disregard Judge Young’s well researched and reasoned decision, which the Act allowed him to do.

    Shame on the Drug Worrier Profiteers ?ref linx

    The vast majority of prohibitionists
    profit on the drug war,..
    … and that is their only motive.

  11. “Arbitrary and capricious” is legal language that was used by DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young in 1988 to conclude that DEA was obligated under the Controlled Substances Act to reschedule marijuana as a prescription medicine. DEA Chief Administrator Robert Bonner proceeded to arbitrarily and capriciously disregard Judge Young’s well researched and reasoned decision, which the Act allowed him to do.

    The vast majority of prohibitionists
    profit on the drug war,..
    … and that is their only motive.

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