In July of 2017, a federal medical marijuana lawsuit was brought questioning the constitutionality of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The CSA classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance. Other substances receiving this same classification include LSD, mescaline, and heroin. The named defendants in the lawsuit included Charles Rosenberg (the Drug Enforcement Administration acting administrator) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

89 Pages of Federal Doubt  

The lawsuit defendants include a New York-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization called Cannabis Cultural Association, two children who use medical marijuana, an Iraq War vet, as well as a former NFL player. The 89-page long complaint claims the federal government does not believe and never has believed that cannabis meets or ever met the three Schedule I requirements. Schedule I substances must have no medical use in treatment, a high potential for abuse, and no safe use even if it is under medical supervision. A favorable ruling would have put an injunction in place preventing enforcement of the law.

Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Plaintiffs

So, who is behind this lawsuit? A retired NFL player, Marvin Washington, of Dallas, has a beef with the CSA because it prevents him from receiving grants from the Federal Minority Business Enterprise. He wants to start a medical marijuana business.

Then, there is Jose Balen. He’s from Seminole County, Fla. Balen served in the U.S. Army. He deployed to Iraq in May 2003 and stayed 14 months. He suffers from PTSD and uses medical marijuana for treatment. But he is currently unable to travel by airplane, enter military bases, or travel to states where it is illegal to purchase medical marijuana.

The lawsuit also mentions two children. Alexis Bortell and Jagger Cotte. Alexis, 11, and her family moved from Texas to Colorado to obtain medical marijuana for their daughter’s seizure condition. Marijuana’s Schedule I classification prevents her from traveling to states where cannabis is illegal. Her parents are former military members, and this means she loses out on additional benefits, as cannabis is still federally illegal.

Doctors diagnosed Jagger, of DeKalb County, Ga., with Leigh’s Disease shortly after he was born. At the age of 1, he was in hospice care. His parents give him medical marijuana. They believe it relieves his pain and added years to his life. But since Jagger is only six years old now, his parents joined the lawsuit because travel is limited to states that have legalized medical cannabis.

Case Dismissed

On Monday, February 26, of this year though, a judge dismissed the medical marijuana lawsuit case. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, “emphasize[d] that this decision is not on the merits of plaintiffs’ claim[s],” said attorney Michael S. Hiller. The ruling encourages the plaintiffs to go back and work through additional administrative avenues to get the DEA to reschedule marijuana. During oral arguments, the government claimed no petitioning had taken place to reclassify the substance.

The judge reiterated that the real legal authority lies with the DEA, and not the court. But according to the ruling, his decision “should not be understood as a factual finding that marijuana lacks any medical use in the United States.” Hellerstein’s decision was also based on the fact, that no “fundamental right” to use cannabis exists. The defendants in the case will appeal the decision and are planning to go the Supreme Court if necessary.

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