Appeals Court Backs Refusal to Reconsider Federal Marijuana Classification

According to current federal law, marijuana is dangerous and harmful drug with no medicinal uses. While this statement flies in the face of reality and nearly every recent body of marijuana research, it’s the stance that the federal government has taken and refused to budge from. Just this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington D.C. Circuit sided with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in determining there’s no reasonable challenge to this stance and once again kicked the marijuana issue under the rug.

The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance. Along with things like heroin, marijuana is thus considered one of the most dangerous drugs in existence. There is no classification higher than a Schedule I. It’s this very classification that gives the federal government the fuel they need to continue to fight states in the medicinal use of marijuana. If there is no valid medical use, according to the feds, they can fight states who stand in opposition to it.

It’s this that’s been used to justify the continued raids on medical marijuana dispensaries. It also helps bolster the war on recreational marijuana too—after all, when it’s classified with heroin we can bring out the big guns, so to speak, in ensuring it doesn’t turn our children into junkies and our emergency rooms into pot-overdose wards. (Note the sarcasm.)

Americans for Safe Access was leading the charge—hoping to get the DEA to reconsider the classification. The DEA refused, stating that in order to even consider reclassification there would need to be more “adequate and well-controlled” studies showing marijuana’s medicinal value. This, the DEA says, is lacking. The court agreed with the DEA dismissing the countless studies that show the treatment benefits of cannabis. And the practical and obvious fact that doctors in 18 states and the District of Columbia now can prescribe medical marijuana to their patients.

The Appeals Court sided with the DEA in their argument, essentially squashing the issue for now. However, ASA is hoping the full appeals court will review this decision handed down by the 3 judge panel. If not, the appeal will likely be put the the US Supreme Court.

“We defer to the agency’s interpretation of these regulations and find that substantial evidence supports its determination that such studies do not exist,” said Senior Judge Harry Edwards. The “petitioners may have cited some peer–reviewed articles in support of their position, but they have not pointed to ‘adequate and well-controlled studies’ confirming the efficacy of marijuana for medicinal uses.”

For now, at least, the ruling marks another setback—another ruling in favor of the war on marijuana.


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Elizabeth Renter is a freelance writer and editor who writes about criminal justice issues.

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  • steve

    i can’t believe yes i can the only way that ur gonna get it reclassified will take an act of congress,lol

  • steve

    i can’t believe yes i can the only way that ur gonna get it reclassified will take an act of congress,lol