Federal Evidentiary Hearing Regarding The Constitutionality Of Cannabis Prohibition Concludes

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 31, 2014

    Federal marijuana hearingUnited States District Judge Kimberly Mueller heard testimony over the course of the past five days in regard to the constitutionality of the federal statute designating marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance. At issue in this evidentiary hearing is whether the scientific literature provides a rational basis for the federal classification of the plant as a substance with “a high potential for abuse,” “no currently accepted medical use,” and a “lack of accepted safety” for use under medical supervision.

    The federal government’s position was articulated in testimony provided by Dr. Bertha Madras, Professor of Psychobiology at Harvard Medical School and the former Deputy Director for Demand Reduction for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George W. Bush.

    Expert witnesses for the defense who testified at the hearing were Dr. Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University in New York City, retired physician Phillip Denny, Dr. Greg Carter, Medical Director of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington, and marijuana cultivation expert and archivist Chris Conrad.

    Defense counsel for the litigants were NORML Legal Committee members Zenia Gilg of San Francisco and Heather Burke of Nevada City, CA. I assisted attorneys Gilg and Burke as a consultant in the case prior to the hearing and as their principle investigator during the hearing — a point that the federal government’s attorneys insisted on making public on Wednesday by insisting the judge recognize that: “Defense counsels’ investigator is the Deputy Director of NORML; he’s not some ordinary investigator.”

    Representatives from California NORML as well as writer Jeremy Daw of TheLeafOnline were in attendance during the hearing and provide day-by-day coverage of events on their respective websites and at the links below. Dr. Madras was cross-examined both Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.







    A ruling by Judge Mueller is not anticipated until after the first of the year.

    68 responses to “Federal Evidentiary Hearing Regarding The Constitutionality Of Cannabis Prohibition Concludes”

    1. Robyn says:

      why so long ?

      [Paul Armentano responds: Additional legal briefs still need to be filed on the parts of legal counsel for both parties. And the Judge needs sufficient time to properly review the witnesses’ declarations, the briefs, the oral testimony, and the exhibits (studies) entered into evidence — of which there are many.]

    2. Wyoming NORML says:

      All of the members and supporters of Wyoming NORML want to thank you for all of your hard work and superlative efforts to help us Legalize. Fingers crossed that this will Fell the Feds!

    3. Miles says:

      On the surface, it appears that the defense has won. Assuming the judge rules for the defense, then what can we, as a nation, expect? In the past, our fearless leaders (like Tricky Dick Nixon) has simply chosen to ignore any and all evidence and logic in favor of their own agenda. So, will this make any difference?

      Also, be sure to vote on November 4th for candidates that support ending the war against law abiding Americans (also known as the drug war…

      If you don’t already have it figured out, the Drug Policy Alliance has provided this for your reference:


      Generally speaking, just vote Democrat or Libertarian unless you are quite sure a Republican candidate is on the right side…

      In Virginia, please vote for Robert Sarvis!!! Mark Warner and Ed Gillespie seem to be perfectly happy to continue building the prison population.

    4. Hearings televised?
      I saw a still photo that looked like an out-take from a C-SPAN broadcast, but can’t find a link. Anyone know more about this.

      [Paul Armentano responds: No. This was a hearing in federal court — no cameras. Direct examination testimony of various witnesses is available online here: http://edca.typepad.com/eastern_district_of_calif/schweder-marijuana-case/.%5D

    5. TheOracle says:

      What’s in this quote just ticked me off already before I am even taking the time to go to any of the links.

      I assisted attorneys Gilg and Burke as a consultant in the case prior to the hearing and as their principle investigator during the hearing — a point that the federal government’s attorneys insisted on making public on Wednesday by insisting the judge recognize that: “Defense counsels’ investigator is the Deputy Director of NORML; he’s not some ordinary investigator.”

      So what is the principle investigator is from NORML! Like someone from the pharmaceutical industry, oil or any other big business industry never was a principle investigator!? WTF! NORML is right! What perfect timing for the judge to see which way the wind is blowing for legalization because the ruling is not until 2015. Hm! I expect the judge to rule in favor of NORML’s position even if freakin’ none of the legalization measures pass this election. All the more pressure will be on this judge to nudge things along toward legalization if legalizers don’t win big this fall. I don’t want to see the momentum come to a screeching halt, or worse yet go backwards. I don’t want prohibitionists to dismantle legalization.

    6. TheOracle says:

      Regarding the election this fall, it’d be a nudge for Grimes to win and legalize cannabis in Kentucky. They already legalized hemp. Colorado can produce seeds en masse for the dry West. Washington and Oregon the rainy climate seeds. Kentucky, do the same for the East. Florida should be next to develop en masse whatever tropical strains can be grown in the South, as far north as you can get the tropical varieties to grow. I tell you Puerto Rico ought to produce some sweet sativas!

      West Coast got some states within decent driving distance for legal weed so I want a state on the East Coast. Kentucky. Sorry Maine and Florida.

    7. TheOracle says:

      Indoors up north it think it would work to use fiber optics and light collection panels outside to reduce the costs of indoor lighting. Greenhouses in the winter up north are a different animal. Still’d have the heating costs for your Colorado style, now Kentucky style, indoor monitored and regulated system. $KaChing$! That’s your cash register raking in cannabis money, Kentucky! I hear Louisville is beautiful.

    8. Julian says:

      Applause for Mr. Armentano!!!

      You deserve the praise and credit sir. I’ve been reading your columns for years and the investigative research you have provided on this blog alone has been indisputable evidence of the unconstitutionality of marijuana’s scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act. Good work man!!!

      The decision from Judge Mueller (Nov. 7th.. 19th at the latest) WILL BE DECIDED BY OUR VOTES THIS TUESDAY!!! If you have a vehicle, and you know someone who is registered, have a voting party and get people to go with you to vote! I’m talking to you Florida; I know there are people in this blog who have already volunteered for these activities, but every bit helps.

      The highlight of this case continues to be the ridiculous prosecution of the U.S. attorney who was apparently more interested in peddling marinol then paying attention to his own litigation; HE ADMITTED CANNABIS HAS MEDICAL EFFICACY UNDER OATH! IN FRONT OF JUDGE MUELLER!! For WHAT? Did he apparently FORGET that the entire premise of this case was to refute the scheduling standards of cannabis as unconstitutional? Just to say that marinol lasts longer than average weed?

      Good work NORML. I could never be more proud of the dollars I donate.

      Can’t wait for the judge’s decision on the 7th of November.

      [Paul Armentano responds: To clarify, the November dates are specific to the filing of briefs and exhibits. The judge’s decision will not be rendered until well after.]

    9. Raphael says:

      U.S. Patent 6630507 should be presented as evidence to constitute an immediate dismissal of marijuana as a class 1 controlled substance. There is no way the government can control the patent on the medicinal properties of this plant on the one hand, while incarceration people and confiscating their property for profit. It’s ludicrous and prime like me demand an immediate revocation if this plant as an illegal substance.

      [Paul Armentano responds: Yes, patent 6630507 was among the evidence presented in this hearing.]

    10. End of the Rope says:

      Like most people I won’t hold my breath. But I have to admit that I have a great deal of hope. Hats off to all of you in and around this effort. Your doing a wonderful job. It’s going to be just terrible waiting to hear the ruling. What a shame that our elected elite are showing the world what absolute idiots they are by defending such a truly unfounded and unjust stance. I do feel a bit sympathy for them. They have no idea just how deep a hole they’ve dug for themselves.