Advocates File Lawsuit Demanding Federal Government Assess Medical Value Of Cannabis

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 23, 2011

    A coalition of public interest advocacy groups filed suit today in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to compel the Obama administration to respond to a nine-year-old petition to reclassify marijuana under federal law.

    The suit was filed by attorneys Joe Elford of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and Michael Kennedy of the NORML Legal Committee on behalf of the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC). The Coalition, which includes NORML and California NORML, filed a comprehensive rescheduling petition with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on October 9, 2002 challenging marijuana’s Schedule I classification as a controlled substance with “no currently accepted medical use” and a “high potential for abuse.” The agency formally accepted the petition for filing on April 3, 2003, and per the provisions of the United States Controlled Substances Act (CSA) referred the petition to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in July 2004 for a full scientific and medical evaluation.

    To date, the federal government has not publicly responded to the petition.

    Today’s lawsuit petitions the Court for a writ of mandamus “directing the DEA and the Attorney General to issue a full and final determination on petitioners’ Petition to reschedule marijuana, or, alternatively, state whether it will initiate rulemaking proceedings, within 60 days.”

    It states: “The DEA’s delay here of more than eight years since the rescheduling Petition was filed — and more than four years since it received HHS’ binding evaluation and recommendations — is inexcusable. … [T]his agency delay in acting on the rescheduling Petition is unreasonable, requiring this Court to intervene.”

    Under the CSA, the Attorney General has the authority to reschedule a drug if he finds that it does not meet the criteria for the schedule to which it has been assigned. The Attorney General has delegated this authority to the Administrator of the DEA, presently Michelle Leonhart.

    The 2002 CRC petition seeks to reschedule cannabis from its Schedule I designation to a less restrictive class under the CSA “on the grounds that: (1) marijuana does have accepted medical uses in the United States; (2) it is safe for use under medical supervision and has an abuse potential lower than Schedule I and II drugs; and (3) it has a dependence liability that is also lower than Schedule I or II drugs.”

    NORML filed a similar rescheduling petition with the DEA in 1972, but was not granted a federal hearing on the issue until 1986. In 1988, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young ruled that marijuana did not meet the legal criteria of a Schedule I prohibited drug and should be reclassified. Then-DEA Administrator John Lawn rejected Young’s determination, a decision the D.C. Court of Appeals eventually affirmed in 1994.

    A subsequent petition was filed by former NORML Director in 1995, but was rejected by the DEA in 2001.

    Additional information on this suit will appear in this week’s NORML news update. To receive these e-mail updates free, please sign up here.

    91 responses to “Advocates File Lawsuit Demanding Federal Government Assess Medical Value Of Cannabis”

    1. Jmadd says:

      Lol the dea is reponsible for drug resheduling! Good luck we all know the dea stance on medical cannibus

    2. Smokey Joe says:

      So they consider themselves above their so called “laws”? It’s HIGH time for the hypocrisy to end.

    3. Emmet Cooney says:

      A critical thinker should ask the question ‘cui bono’ (who benefits) in cases of gross obstruction such as this.

      My answer? Entrenched plutocratic interests, intent on benefiting themselves at the expense of the rest of us.


    4. ancient wizard says:

      Hell yeah!

    5. The American Genesist says:

      Full scientific and medical “evaluation” is what Genesists have been mandating, with passion, for a very long time now. Just calling for evaluation is not enough – we mandate “Scientific Conclusion.”

      Delegating authority, for the mandate to re-schedule, to Michelle Leonhart is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Her arrogant disregard for the American people’s will is no less than the prohibs that keep cannabis illegal. At any rate – a 2 year old child can recognize this shell game.

      I take issue with the grounds that cannabis has a lower dependency liability than schedule I or II. It has “no dependency liability.” It’s the individual that has the dependency issue. With that in mind – we should take all the glue off the shelves. “People have dependency issues – not the substance” – much the same as “People kill people – not guns.”

      Prohibs don’t speak to Genesists. They have nothing to say to us. We’re absolutely indifferent to their ridiculous insistence to remove cannabis, and its users, from this planet.

      “Now is the time” – we’ve gotten what we’ve demanded. It’s time for every Genesist to overwhelm government with our mandate for “Scientific Conclusion.” What the hell do we have to do – hit prohibs over the head with a sledge hammer to jog their memory and get them to remember what freedom [was].

    6. […] File Lawsuit Demanding Federal Government Assess Medical Value Of Cannabis Advocates File Lawsuit Demanding Federal Government Assess Medical Value Of Cannabis | NORML Blog, M… Advocates File Lawsuit Demanding Federal Government Assess Medical Value Of Cannabis May 23rd, […]

    7. Fat boy says:

      Bout time!

    8. Chris11 says:

      if there is no redress to this issue, I am not represented as a taxpayer.

      Can i stop paying taxes since the DEA refuses to treat me as a citizen?

      too bad i enjoy paying for the services of the agencies that WORK, so Ill keep getting screwed.


    9. David762 says:

      Good luck with any lawsuit with the Federal government regarding MariJuana, MariJuana Prohibition, State’s Rights, or the Rights and Liberties guaranteed under the USA Constitution.
      The DEA and the entire Federal government is Above The Law. They will ignore scientific data, medical data, the Will of We the People, and the Constitution itself to do whatever they want.

      For them, the ends justify the means, and the End They Seek is the total subjugation of the USA Working Class to the will and whimsey of the Corporatist Kleptocracy. We are, after all, talking about a tyrannical fascistic surveillance police state.

      Obama and the Democrats (most of them) are not the Friends of Freedom and Liberty. The Republicans (most of them) are not the Friends of Freedom and Liberty. Doubt my words? Don’t listen to the words of “our” politicians — look at the ever-increasingly repressive legislation that They vote for, and sign into Law. Obama, who as a candidate once railed against the loss of civil liberties due to the Patriot Act, and has fully embraced his “Unitary Executive” powers once in office.

      Perhaps as many as 5% of our politicians are not Reich-Wing Authoritarians or outright Fascists — but the rest are, or at least “willing tools” of those that are. If this country was on the brink of civi war, that 95% of our politicians would have a bulls-eye on their back, a bullet with their name on it, an appointment with a length of rope and a lamp-post, or an empty wicker basket at the base of a guillotine waiting for their head. Alas, we are not at that point — we may never be at that point, because our Corporate Kleptocracy already controls the politicians, the economy, and the propagandist message blaring from the Main-Stream Media.

      “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
      “If you want to imagine the future, imagine a boot stamping
      on a human face, forever.”
      –George Orwell, from “1984”

      “No more ignoring the law when it’s inconvenient. That is not who we are. . . . We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers”
      –candidate Barack Obama, August 1, 2007

      “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation” — candidate Barack Obama, December, 2007

      “My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”
      — President Barack Obama

    10. somedood says:

      money rules poor pot smokers drool…