The Supreme Court is really the final say in U.S. legal matters, with the potential to supersede trial judges, appeals court judges, and even to negate unconstitutional laws written by state and federal lawmakers. But getting them to rule or even listen to arguments on something is no easy matter. Experts and advocates alike are hopeful that the high court will soon decide to hear arguments on rescheduling marijuana, and they’ve taken the first steps in ensuring that happens.
Americans for Safe Access filed a writ of certiorari with the court last week, asking them to rule that precedent set by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals is unreasonable and that evidence surely shows that cannabis does have some medicinal value.
Right now marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance. This is the most serious classification for drugs under the federal system—marijuana shares that spot with other “highly addictive” drugs like heroin. One key feature of drugs deemed Schedule I is that they have no medicinal value, of which we know marijuana does.
It’s because of marijuana’s federal classification as a Schedule I substance that the federal government doesn’t recognize medical marijuana programs as legal. It’s why we see federal agents raiding dispensaries and homes, despite their owners adhering to state law. Getting the federal government to admit that the plant does, in fact, have healing properties would solve part of the War on Pot that the feds insist on waging.
Despite the DC Court of Appeals being flooded with clear scientific evidence that pot has medicinal value, they ruled that the evidence wasn’t enough. Rather than the standard peer-reviewed studies (of which more than 200 were presented), the court determined they needed evidence from Phase II and Phase III clinical trials. These sorts of trials are typically only required for new pharmaceuticals entering the market.
Filing the writ doesn’t mean the Supreme Court will hear the case—they receive piles of those each session. But as the Daily Chronic reported, this particular writ has two things going for it. It’s on the paid certiorari docket and it’s asking the Court to resolve conflict between federal appeals courts.
“The Obama Administration’s legal efforts are keeping marijuana out of reach for millions of qualified patients who would benefit from its use,” said ASA chief counsel Joe Elford. “It’s long past time for the federal government to change our country’s harmful policy on medical marijuana, and if it must be compelled to do so by the courts then so be it.”