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Federal Judge to Hold Hearing on Whether Cannabis Should be Removed as a Schedule 1 Drug

By Paul Armentano, NORML

Testimony regarding the constitutionality of the federal statute gavelbuddesignating marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance will be taken on Monday, October 27 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California in the case of United States v. Pickard, et. al., No. 2:11-CR-0449-KJM.

Members of Congress initially categorized cannabis as a Schedule I substance, the most restrictive classification available, in 1970. Under this categorization, the plant is defined as possessing “a high potential for abuse, … no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, … [and lacking] accepted safety for … use … under medical supervision.”

Expert witnesses for the defense – including Drs. Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University in New York City, retired physician Phillip Denny, and Greg Carter, Medical Director of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington – will testify that the accepted science is inconsistent with the notion that cannabis meets these Schedule I criteria.

“[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 government intends to call Bertha Madras, Ph.D., Professor of Psychobiology at Harvard Medical School and the former Deputy Director for Demand Reduction for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George W. Bush.

Additional evidence has been presented by way of declarations by Marine Sgt. Ryan Begin, a veteran of the Iraq War; Jennie Stormes, the mother of a child suffering from Dravet Syndrome – a pediatric form of epilepsy that has been shown in preliminary trials to respond to specific compounds in the cannabis plant; James Nolan, Ph.D. an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at West Virginia University and a former crime analyst for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Christopher Conrad, noted cannabis author, archivist, and cultivation expert.

This is the first time in recent memory that a federal judge has granted an evidentiary hearing on a motion challenging the statute which classifies cannabis to be one of the most dangerous illicit substances in the nation. Attorneys Zenia Gilg and Heather Burke, both members of the NORML Legal Committee, contend that the federal government’s present policies facilitating the regulated distribution of cannabis in states such as Colorado and Washington can not be reconciled with the insistence that the plant is deserving of its Schedule I status under federal law.

They write: “In effect, the action taken by the Department of Justice is either irrational, or more likely proves the assertions made in Part I (B) of this Brief: marijuana does not fit the criteria of a Schedule I Controlled Substance.”

Speaking recently in a taped interview with journalist Katie Couric, United States Attorney General Eric Holder expressed the need to revisit cannabis’ Schedule I placement under federal law. Holder said, “[T]he question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that I think we need to ask ourselves, and use science as the basis for making that determination.”

The testimonial part of the evidentiary hearing in United States v. Pickard, et. al., is expected to last three days.

About Anthony Martinelli

Anthony, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheJointBlog, has worked closely with numerous elected officials who support cannabis law reform, including as the former Campaign Manager for Washington State Representative Dave Upthegrove. He has also been published by multiple media outlets, including the Seattle Times. He can be reached at TheJointBlog@TheJointBlog.com.

14 comments

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  1. William Sell

    Long ago should have forced the States to legalize it. But wait, are THEY making it illegal? “Legalizing” the plant isn’t what’s happening, they’re just ending the prohibition of something that was never their business. It’s been obvious to me since the sixties that if people find better inebriants and adopt their use, the Statists that want to control every aspect of human existence will have a crisis du jour just to be sure you’ll never be legally able to smoke reefer. a list of these shitfinishes needs to be assembled and an effort made to help them find other employment. It’s fucking amazing. Anything that people widely enjoy MUST be prohibited.These turds represent us like Israel represents the Palestinians.

  2. George F.

    Freedom! The sooner we get the feds off our backs the better! I am not free to travel about, not even on the freeway 30 miles from my house because the Border Patrol has a “federal” island of land on I8 west where they enjoy harassing and arresting disabled patients like me and 86 year old women. They let me go after harassing us but had I been alone they would have arrested me. I should be free but I am not and that makes me sicker because it pisses me off that I am still not FREE!

  3. JenM

    This is must happen.Medical cannabis should be removed in order the prohibition law is much more meaningful.

  4. Catherine Widdicombe

    This is a big deal! I think it’s the most important aspect of our legalization fight! Don’t think the south has a chance of anything happening here until this is done.

  5. scott

    also why is hemp a schedule 1 drug as well? don’t get a fly high

  6. Ras Ible

    This is the case we all been waiting for hooray!!!

  7. Matthias Dailey

    I hope they present some compelling evidence against the stance that marijuana has “a high potential for abuse” and “has no accepted medical value”.

    As a side note on “abuse”, I think that some overly-concerned citizens may view ANY use as abuse, since they don’t know that weed is relatively harmless. Yes, it does have some potential for abuse, but not that high. It also does have potential for acceptable moderate use (just like alcohol).

    For people who have emotional pain that they’re trying to escape from, marijuana will become a problem for them. In fact, they will latch onto anything that lets them escape their inner pain. But the pain needs to be resolved, not ignored by getting high. The first step to healing is by accepting yourself by learning how God loves you and has forgiven you of all wrong you’ve done. That’s step one. If not dealt with properly, emotional pain is a breeding ground for addiction.

    I’d like to enjoy cannabis occasionally without being a criminal. I currently don’t, since it is illegal according to federal law (and my state’s law). Even though I could totally get away with it, I just want to be a law-abiding citizen — above reproach.

  8. Anonymous

    Please legalize it would get our country out of debt look at Colorado its working there

  9. Alan

    It’s about time.

  10. carol cripps

    A plant should not put people in jail..It is classified all wrong,it is a medicine,and we have been told yet another lye,by our Government!! How do you think,we can trust you,or do you even care…very dissappointed in Kentucky…:'(

    1. MyHigh

      So just do what 1 billion others do and just say fuck the government and blaze inside and laugh in their face’s.

    2. morvis

      A plant doesn’t put people in jail. Nanny statists put people in jail.

      1. William Sell

        I believe Texas just went legal a month or two back.Florida just barely missed it, but they’ll get it next time. Same with California..And hemp for oil millet. and fiber, one of the best fibers known to man. We’ve allowed the Feds to go insane on the subject. People growing a plant that God gave us are getting fifty year sentences. Ain’t it time we’ve had enough.?Time we grew up and did the right thing.A few more states and the feds will give up. Even though it’s Federal agencies that want to make up the rules as they go along. Our State legislators should force our US Reps and Senators to answer to the State they represent. The Seventeenth amendment made election of US Senators to be popularly elected, rather than the original Constitution whereby the State legislators elected our US Senators. You can see how this ill advised amendment cost the states any power to the Feral government. The Seventeenth amendment took all authority from the states.

  11. Tami E

    This could be EPIC people!!

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