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Federal Judge Rules Against Rescheduling Marijuana


reschedule marijuana schedule 1In October of last year, federal Judge Kimberly Mueller heard four days of testimony about whether or not marijuana should be classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. The feds argued that marijuana has no medical value, which is one of the descriptions for Schedule I substances according to the Controlled Substances Act. The reform side brought up actual scientists, like Dr. Carl Hart. Dr. Carl Hart is an associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University. Mr. Hart stated the following, according to Smell the Truth:

“[I]t is my considered opinion that including marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is counter to all the scientific evidence in a society that uses and values empirical evidence,” Dr. Hart declared. “After two decades of intense scientific inquiry in this area, it has become apparent the current scheduling of cannabis has no footing in the realities of science and neurobiology.”

The decision was delayed, fueling speculation that the ruling would be favorable to rescheduling. Jeremy Daw (The Leaf Online) recently wrote an article for Alternet, in which he made some very interesting observations in the case relating to the delayed ruling:

Based on Mueller’s comments from the bench, combined with the pattern of delays in constructing her legal theory of the case, it appears unlikely that this judge will dispose of this question on purely procedural grounds. On the final day of oral argument in the case, for example, Judge Mueller posed a hypothetical to the attorneys in the case. “Suppose I reach a decision on the merits,” she said, “using either the rational basis standard or what one judge has called ‘rational basis with bite.'” It’s one of the only clues of her intent from an otherwise poker-faced judge.

The repeated delays in the written argument phase — three now — also favor a decision on the merits. While written opinions on standing can be as arcane as any other topic of law (if not more so), the area of law applying standing to drug law cases is relatively well-developed compared to the novel — indeed, historic — question posed by the merits: is keeping cannabis in Schedule I so out of step with reality as to be unconstitutional?

Finally, judicial economy must be considered. The dockets of federal judges are famously crowded; it makes little sense to devote five days of extremely valuable court time to establishing evidence relevant to the merits of the case if one didn’t intend to decide the case on the merits.

Unfortunately the ruling did not come back favorable. Judge Mueller alluded to a day when marijuana would be rescheduled, but said that the day would not come in her court, at least not now. Per NORML:

A federal judge today denied a motion challenging the constitutionality of cannabis’ classification as a Schedule I prohibited substance without any accepted medical utility.

Judge Kimberly J. Mueller of the Federal District Court in Sacramento, California issued her oral ruling during a 15-minute court hearing today. Judge Mueller heard closing arguments in the case in early February but had postponed her decision on several occasions. Her written opinion is not yet available but is expected to be posted publicly by week’s end.

“At some point in time, a court may decide this status to be unconstitutional,” Judge Mueller said from the bench. “But this is not the court and not the time.”

Defense counsel intends to appeal the ruling.

California NORML posted the following response on their website:

“We’re glad that the court heard this matter and hope that Congress will take the issue up,” said Dale Gieringer of California NORML, who has been party to a rescheduling suit in recent years. NORML has been challenging marijuana’s Schedule One status since the 1970s, and Americans for Safe Access has also challenged it, unsuccessfully.

Paul Armentano, NORML’s deputy director who participated in research for the case, said, “We applaud Judge Mueller for having the courage to hear this issue and provide it the careful consideration it deserves. While we are disappointed with this ruling, it changes little. We always felt this had to ultimately be decided by the Ninth Circuit and we have an unprecedented record for the court to consider.

“In the interim, it is our hope that lawmakers move expeditiously to change public policy. Presently, bipartisan legislation is before the House and Senate to recognize cannabis’ therapeutic utility and to reschedule it accordingly and we encourage members of Congress to move forward expeditiously to enact this measure.”

It’s unfortunate that Judge Mueller didn’t have the courage to do whats right. Instead she punted the issue to Congress, which is exactly what the Obama Administration has done. When will we see marijuana removed from the Schedule I classification? Will Congress ever get it in gear? What are the odds of winning an appeal to this ruling? Only time will tell.


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Johnny Green


  1. Who we elect must believe in restoring out rights to heal ourselves… BEFORE THE NEED ARISES.

  2. We just need to vet the people who seek to represent us in both the House and Senate. If they do not believe that cannabis has medical benefits… then we do not vote for them. Who we elect my believe in restoring out rights to heal ourselves… before we actually have the need to do so. This is ridiculous. If that judge had breast cancer… cannabis would heal it.

  3. Ah. Now is not the time to do the right thing. Later. Much later. Of course the subrosa theme is, “There is too much money in it.”

  4. I wonder what skeletons were dug up to warrant not moving forward with a favorable decision. Back to the drawing board for advocates.

  5. Unfortunately, the judge was correct. It was the knock-down argument against rescheduling in the fed’s brief — Judge Meuller’s court (as a district court in CA) doesn’t have the authority to reschedule. A federal circuit court, like the Ninth Circuit in CA or the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in which the ASA’s 2012 rescheduling case was heard have the authority to make rulings that impact other states. Sadly, this case was the equivalent of trying to divorce your wife in traffic court.

    We can talk all day long about courage, but the facts are facts. Judge Meuller *cannot* reschedule from her bench. I hate being the voice of reason that brings everyone down, but every article I read about this case left out that important information. The judge wasn’t simply being poetic by saying it was the wrong courtroom. She was being literal.

    I can appreciate keeping attitudes positive, but damn… This is why it’s taking so long to win this war. We keep taking the wrong fight to the wrong field.

    When the ASA tried to reschedule in 2012, they should NOT have tried to argue for rescheduling on the merits. Judges aren’t scientists or doctors. They should have made a case against the DEA on a First Amendment violation. You see, the unsung First Amendment right, the right to petition our government, was violated systematically for decades by the DEA as they would delay all rescheduling petitions for as long as they could — almost a decade, sometimes. There was ample evidence to demonstrate the DEA’s inability or unwillingness to honor the First Amendment rights of the petitioners, so the DC Circuit Court could have stripped the DEA of their power to evaluate rescheduling petitions. It would not be a stretch to argue they *should not* have that power. Had the ASA presented that case, the DC Circuit Court of appeals would have taken away the DEA’s right to evaluate rescheduling petitions and granted that power to an agency more fit to evaluate them, like the NIH or another HHS agency that is scientific in nature.

    Had that occurred, had we brought the right fight to the right field at the right time, we would have already rescheduled by now. Blaming Judge Meuller for the short-sightedness of our case — refusing to acknowledge where we failed — is another reason this war isn’t over, yet.

  6. “But this is not the court and not the time.” Hmmmm…..I’m old enough that I’ve heard similar sentiments about desegregation.

  7. This sounds just like Obama and Clinton on this issue. Everyone is afraid to stick their toe in the water.

  8. Someone in government evidently “Gave her a talking to” and probably threatened her in some way because she wimped out on this one. We need some kind of Dred Scott event on this. How can a logical person when presented with all the evidence on this issue not find it unconstitutional.

  9. “But this is not the court and not the time.”
    Hers may not be the court but it is the time to freetheweed.

  10. Two words: PATENT #6630507 “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” is paid for and FUNDED by US…the TAX PAYERS! Keeping this plant a Schedule 1 is total and complete HYPOCRACY by the one’s WE the PEOPLE elect into office. Remember, there’s NO MONEY in the CURE; only the FIGHT!
    We know the truth and it is OUR duty to spread it
    Peace Pot & Prosperity

  11. So this “judge”: said it’s the right thing to do, but she’s not going to do it? Coward is too weak a word for such an individual.

  12. A horrible death is what they deserve but I can’t bring myself to wish for it. If I knew as many people crucified by their evil ways as you do, I’d probably agree with you.

  13. I would like to thank the U.S.A. for allowing my uncle, my dad, my grandfather, my best friend, my ex-wife both of her parents, two of her uncles to die a cruel, miserable, and horrible death from cancer by denying them the legal use of cannabis to ease their pain and suffering!
    I hope that everyone involved in keeping cannabis a schedule 1 drug all die a horrible and miserable death for allowing all of these family members of mine to do just that!

  14. Silly Rabbit on

    Glad we tried – Sad we lost

    You never fail until you stop trying and as the Carpenters said:

    “We’ve only just begun” …..

    Cannabis will prevail!

  15. Cannabis was judged guilty and placed on the Controlled Substances List
    without any sold empirical evidence for doing so, only false
    unsubstantiated accusations. Why would the government be convinced by
    the growing preponderance of empirical evidence, both scientific and
    anecdotal, that cannabis is not only extraordinarily beneficial for
    health and healing but also orders of magnitude more safe than any
    approved FDA drug on the market.

    It has never been about the real merits of the cannabis plant. It has
    been about the fear of those powerful interests that are threatened by
    the potential of cannabis to liberate minds and heal bodies. The
    government is simply doing the biding of their masters. And that ain’t
    “We the People.”

  16. Makes me wonder what kind of skeletons she’s hiding in the closet and who found them.

  17. stellarvoyager on

    It is my belief that she was coerced into this ruling, due to having a favorable view of the defendants’ argument, and then reversing course at the last minute.

  18. Idaho Hippy Coalition on

    The anti’s have already had their day in the Sun.. Eight decades as a matter of fact… marijuana use is up,the government has wasted billions on marijuana prohibition, thousands have lost their lives in Mexico or been murdered by the police in their own homes here in the USA.. And countless children have been traumatized, or have suffered the loss of one or both parents either temporarily or permanently. All for nothing. and come to find out after all of their efforts most of the American public supports marijuana use. When will these fools ever learn?

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