A pivotal moment has occurred in the battle to legalize cannabis in the United States at the federal level. In a (potentially) landmark lawsuit against the U.S. federal government and the DEA, a federal appeals court has reinstated the suit against the U.S. federal government and the DEA (as well as then Attorney General Jeff Sessions), challenging the criminalization of marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic.
The plaintiffs are Super Bowl Champion Marvin Washington, U.S. Army veteran José Belén, the parents of two underage cannabis patients, and the Cannabis Cultural Association. The plaintiffs allege that the Schedule 1 prohibition of marijuana represents a risk to the patients’ health, perpetuates economic inequities, and thus is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
In a public statement commenting on the decision, Belén said:
That directly falls in line with the Brown versus Board of Education decision – a decision that ended segregation. Our Federal Lawsuit is history in the making. This is the first time in history that a cannabis lawsuit challenging the CSA has seen a federal court refuse to dismiss a complaint challenging its constitutionality.
We, the people, the patients, and millions of veterans like myself, are not afraid to stand up to the Department of Justice or the DEA in our fight, as it is a righteous fight, on behalf of this nation’s sick and incapacitated.
Generations upon generations of families have been destroyed via incarcerations, overdoses, and suicides –suicides that include over 8,000 veterans and active duty military men and women every year... The list is endless.
And for what?
For greed, money, and power.
While governments across North America (and now globally) have been steadily legalizing cannabis – first medicinally and now for adult use – the normalization of cannabis has been led through the courts. It was court decisions in individual U.S. states and federally in Canada that initially compelled governments to provide access to medicinal cannabis.
It was this initial impetus that motivated reluctant governments to put cannabis legalization on the ballot in the U.S. at the state level, and led then Liberal Party candidate (and now Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau to pledge to fully legalize cannabis in Canada. Only the U.S. federal government and a limited number of states have resisted any degree of cannabis legalization.
It is now known that cannabinoids, the active ingredients in the cannabis plant are produced naturally in the human body and medical science now believes they play an important role in regulating and maintaining human health. Meanwhile, empirical evidence mounts that cannabis has valid therapeutic uses with respect to thousands of medical conditions and research advances into developing cannabis-based pharmaceuticals for dozens of specific medical applications.
In this light, the federal government’s Schedule 1 prohibition of cannabis as a drug with “no currently accepted medical use” is plainly perverse. Parallel to this, a separate battle is shaping up between the Washington, D.C.’s city government and Congress with respect to the partial Prohibition of cannabis that still exists in the District of Columbia.