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Federal Court of Appeals Declines Opportunity to Reclassify Marijuana as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance:

January 23, 2013

David Rudoi Esq.

On Tuesday a Federal Court of Appeals denied a petition to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Marijuana is currently classified as a schedule 1 controlled substance within the Federal Controlled Substances Act. A portion of the definition of a Schedule 1 controlled substance is that it has a “high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use.” Other drugs that are classified as schedule 1 controlled substance include Heroin, LSD, and Escatsy.

Many people find it completely ridiculous that the federal government claims that Marijuana has “no currently accepted medical use when 17 states and the District of Columbia have passed bills that legalize the use of medical marijuana. It seems to many that the people of the various states that have passed medical marijuana laws overwhelming believe that marijuana does have medical use. Doctors across the states with medical marijuana laws continue to write recommendations for patients to use medical marijuana. It is clear to most across the country that marijuana does have many accepted medical uses.

Judge Harry T. Edwards wrote the majority opinion and stated that the case was not decided on the issue of whether marijuana does in fact have medical benefits, but rather whether the Drug Enforcement Administrations decision to keep marihuana as a schedule 1 controlled substance was “arbitrary and capricious”. Under that “arbitrary and capricious” the court found the classification survived judicial review.

Two of the three judges ruled that at least one of the petitioners had standing to challenge the DEA’s action. This is at least a small win in a case that to most is a unexplainable loss that defies all logic and rationale.

The DEA defines “currently accepted medical use to require, among other things, “adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy.” Americans for Safe Access, one of the petitioners in the case, cited over 200 peer reviewed studies that demonstrate marijuana’s various medical uses. The court said that there may be medical use for marijuana, however, the court stated “the DEA fairly construed this report as calling for ‘more and better studies to determine potential medical applications of marijuana’ and not as sufficient proof of medical efficacy itself.” The court found that petitioners “have not pointed to ‘adequate and well-controlled studies’ confirming the efficacy of marijuana for medicinal uses”.

This decision is a hard hit to the medical marijuana movement across the country in the wake of positive momentum coming off the election where Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use under state law.the decision to reclassify marihuana would solve many conflicts of state and federal law as well as stop overly harsh federal treatment of marijuana related crimes.  It seems the federal government is yet to catch up with the citizens of this country who are pushing to have marijuana treated differently from other drugs and reclassify marijuana from being a schedule 1 controlled substance.