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Advocates Appeal Marijuana’s Federal Status To U.S. Supreme Court


Supreme Court marijuanaI received the following press release from Americans for Safe Access late yesterday. It’s far from guaranteed to work, but it’s a step worth taking:

Washington, DC — Medical marijuana patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed a petition for writ of certiorari today with the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal a January Circuit Court decision that maintained marijuana’s current federal status as one of the most dangerous drugs with no medical value. In the widely watched case ASA v. Drug Enforcement Administration, petitioners are challenging an unreasonable and unprecedented standard set by the District of Columbia Circuit, which also creates a federal appellate split on what constitutes proof of medical efficacy.

“To deny that sufficient evidence is lacking on the medical efficacy of marijuana is to ignore a mountain of well-documented studies that conclude otherwise,” said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who argued the appeal before the D.C. Circuit in October of last year. “The Court has unreasonably raised the bar for what qualifies as an ‘adequate and well-controlled’ study, thereby continuing the government’s game of ‘Gotcha.'”

On January 22nd, the D.C. Circuit granted plaintiffs standing — the right to sue the federal government to reclassify marijuana — but, in a 2-1 ruling, denied the appeal on the merits by setting a new, virtually-impossible to meet standard for assessing medical efficacy. Although ASA cited more than 200 peer-reviewed studies in its appeal, the D.C. Circuit held that plaintiffs must produce evidence from Phase II and Phase III clinical trials — usually reserved for companies trying to bring a new drug to market — in order to show marijuana’s medical efficacy.

This new standard set by the D.C. Circuit creates an appellate split with the First Circuit in Grinspoon v. DEA, 828 F.2d 881 (1st Cir. 1987), which held the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) cannot treat a lack of FDA marketing approval as conclusive evidence that a substance has no “currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” The Grinspoon Court also held that for some drugs (like smoked marijuana) “there is no economic or other incentive to seek interstate marketing approval…because [they]cannot be patented and exploited commercially.” The D.C. Circuit’s standard not only conflicts with Grinspoon, however, it also sets such a stringent requirement on proving medical efficacy that future petitions to reschedule — such as those filed in 2011 by the governors of four states (CO, RI, VT, and WA) — will likely face similar uphill battles.

In 2002, the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, made up of several individuals and organizations including ASA, filed a petition to reclassify marijuana for medical use. That petition was denied by the DEA in July 2011. The appeal to the D.C. Circuit was the first time in nearly 20 years that a federal court has reviewed the issue of whether adequate scientific evidence exists to reclassify marijuana. Before the January ruling, the D.C. Circuit had never granted plaintiffs the right to sue when seeking reclassification of marijuana.

“The Obama Administration’s legal efforts are keeping marijuana out of reach for millions of qualified patients who would benefit from its use,” continued Elford. “It’s long past time for the federal government to change our country’s harmful policy on medical marijuana, and if it must be compelled to do so by the courts then so be it.” Over the past decade, an even greater number of scientific studies have been conducted clearly showing the medical efficacy of marijuana, and national polls have consistently ranked popular support for medical marijuana at around 80 percent.

Today’s filing comes at the height of federal attacks against state law-compliant medical marijuana cultivators and distributors. A recent report issued by ASA claimed that the Obama Administration spent nearly $300 million over the past four years on aggressive enforcement practices in medical marijuana states. ASA has also launched a campaign calling for Peace for Patients in an effort to restrict Justice Department funding and curtail continued attacks on medical marijuana patient and their providers.

Further information:
ASA petition for writ of certiorari: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Cert_Petition_ASA_v_DEA.pdf
D.C. Circuit decision: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/DC_Circuit_Ruling_ASA_v_DEA.pdf
2002 CRC rescheduling petition: http://www.drugscience.org/PDF/Petition_Final_2002.pdf - See more at: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/article.php?id=7677#sthash.GOAsGxEX.dpuf


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Johnny Green


  1. Gregory Frazier on

    I for one hope they reclassify and get a better president next election time,. One that actually helps the marijuana movement, not hinder it the way O has. God smokes weed cause the earth is green.

  2. At least cross your fingers for Sched 3 — at least then, the NIDA will lose its monopoly on production/distribution for research purposes, and I believe nationwide legalization would follow within two years, as study after study after study with actual clinical trials (the sort the DC Circuit Court said in January is necessary) shows the safety and medical efficacy of cannabis. As it stands, the NIDA prevents any research that would satisfy the standard set by the DC Circuit Court did in its 2-1 decision (which, incidentally, as Joe Elford made clear in his writ, conflicts with Grinspoon v DEA).

  3. Criminal Justice on

    Regardless of when or if they do legalize marijuana it will be too little too
    late for so many people who have had to suffer and die as my 54 year old
    brother, Jack did during his illness with ALS back in 2011. Didn’t he
    have rights as an adult American citizen to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of
    Happiness? Our President and our government keep spending tax payers money to fight for the rights of gays and the illegal’s but won’t even consider treating US who believe weed is a right as equals because our messed up system and crooked politicians make too much money turning our Nation’s most profitable business into that of incarcerating its own people and taking their assets under the forfeiture

  4. I can’t read all of that petition but what I did read tells me it has a very good chance of doing some good. And I believe they will hear it, or at least I hope they will.

  5. Oh brother, if only the rules had been so stringent to get it ON the Schedule 1 list to begin with, maybe we wouldn’t be in this predicament today.

  6. firetheliberals on

    Lets hope that the scotus takes the case. Perhaps tge 10th amendment might come up…

  7. Matt Kirchner on

    If police started busting harvard students instead of poor minorities weed would be legalized in a day.

  8. I really hope they overturn the ruling and reclassify it as a helpful plant rather then a lethal drug.

  9. Mike Mittleberger on

    If growers would give Obozo n his cronies their cut,
    Plus 10% for themselves. U know damn well it would be legal….

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