The Department of Justice Task Force is expected to give their suggestions as to how the government should handle the charging and sentencing of marijuana crimes, among other issues like immigration, any day now. However, as they appear to hope to follow through on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ plans to “crack down” on states with legal cannabis, a lawsuit has been filed with the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York in hopes of having cannabis removed from the Controlled Substances Act.
“The record makes clear that the CSA doesn’t make any rational sense, and the Federal Government knows it,” said Michael Hiller, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the case. “If the Federal Government doesn’t believe in the rationality of its own statute, it’s unconstitutional to enforce it.”
The suit is being filed against Attorney General Sessions, the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration – with five plaintiffs including former Jets defensive player Marvin Washington, who founded Isodiol Performance, which makes CBD-only, THC-free cannabis products. Three of the other four plaintiffs include two children (represented by their parents), 11-year-old Alexis Bortell, who has epilepsy, and 6-year-old Jagger Cotte, who has Leigh’s Disease, and a veteran, Jose Belen, who suffers from PTSD. All of them have ties to cannabis as a medicine, and all want to see the plant removed from the CSA to improve the lives of millions.
They are using the grounds that the original placement of cannabis as a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substances Act was unconstitutional because it was racially motivated, stating that criminalizing cannabis “arose out of the enactment of legislation underwritten by illegal racial and ethnic animus, and implemented and enforced at the federal level by those who have chosen to disregard its scientific properties and benefits, and have been motivated by hatred and outright bigotry”. This is true, in a way, as the very first time cannabis was outlawed was when Mexicans started bringing it into the U.S., and it has been illegal on some level ever since.
“We are seeking a ‘declaration’ to that effect, and also a permanent injunction restraining enforcement of the CSA as written, as it pertains to cannabis,” said Rudick. “The classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug deprives individuals of basic constitutional rights, including Due Process and the fundamental right to travel. Some of these individuals, such as Alexis Bortell and Jagger Cotte (both plaintiffs in the action) are patients who seek cannabis as a means of life-saving medication. The government has a federal patent on cannabis, and has recognized the medical efficacy of cannabis in a variety of ways, yet Sessions is trying to reverse policy on cannabis use and contend that it has no medical use. It’s hypocritical.”
There is no telling whether or not this lawsuit will actually get anywhere – but if the court finds in the favor of the five plaintiffs, then things are about to change drastically. If they win the case then cannabis could – and most likely would – be removed from the Controlled Substances Act until further research was done by the FDA to determine where, if at all, cannabis should be placed in the CSA. Hopefully this case goes well, and fast enough that Attorney General Sessions will not need to worry about whether or not the DOJ approves his personal request to charge medical marijuana industry workers and patients in states where it is legal, since it would be legal throughout the U.S. at that point.