Advocates File Lawsuit Demanding Federal Government Assess Medical Value Of Cannabis

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 thoughts

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

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

  3. 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. 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].

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. The devil is in the details! Why the extreme paranoia over cannabis? In the 1930’s it was barely on the feds radar… then came Mexican immigrants that just happened to use it to unwind after work.
    There was the industrial side also, hemp, a textile plant, source of oil, a medicine, used by physicians regularly, and even Henry Ford had plans for a hemp-diesel oil engine.
    All that aside as none of it matters. There is a REASON cannabis is a Schedule One drug; and not for what it is, but rather, what they are afraid it might be. And what might that be?
    Pot brownie, anyone???

  8. Im sure it will be buisness as usual….you make this go away and ill help you with your little problem type deal….politics

  9. I was excited until I read … “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.”
    We could have research showing that God kills a kitten for every cannabis user arrested and she would probably laugh in glee. She loved the idea of the drug war causing bloodshed on the borders of Mexico as it were. If she had her way no one would even have written this proposal, she thinks it is not responsible to even discuss changing out drug laws. With anyone else it might have had a chance.

  10. In other words, why didn’t the Attorney General just go ahead and say “forget about it” if he was just going to do the equivalent of putting the entire lawsuit into the office paper shredder anyway? He knows there’s no possibility of debate from Leonhart’s side. Sheesh.

  11. As long as Michelle Leonhart has any involvement this will be a losing battle. She apparently has more power than the President…

  12. O how i Wish 60 minutes would be on our side and do a full 60 minutes story on this law suit. Then we can start to get some help.from the media

  13. This might turn out to be a really good thing if this battle is won. It will take away a lot of their extreme power. However, I fully believe that they (the DEA) is already fully aware of the medical benefits of cannabis – they just don’t want to admit it since it weakens their position and power! Michelle Leonhart is one of the so-called “dogs of war” and I have often wondered exactly why it is that President Obama seems to bow to her will on this issue…

  14. the media is owned by the rich corporations ie. big pharma , so we will not get the full or straight story. they give campaign money to politicians and they tell us sorry but its not good for you, im so sick and tired of big money getting what they want. its time we quit locking people up and giving them perminant records for a drug that is so much better for you than alcohol and tobacco. sure wish we had a president in our corner but as long as president obama is needing campaign cash i hold no hope of getting what is right done

  15. Who are we calling on to make this go away – the government that makes it stay? We best band together as Americans if we know what’s good for us. A lot of bullies have tried to take over “our” government – but – to do that – “they need the people.” Government DOES NOT have the people on this one. At any rate – they’re not going to cause my cardiologist to buy a beach house.

  16. This lawsuit is good news. It puts people on record as to why Marijuana is in Schedule one. The DEA should have nothing to do with the sheduling of drugs.

  17. It’s not because marijuana is so dangerous, its because so many people profit from it being illegal. Thats just the way it is. The feds could care less about the lives they ruin as long as they get their pay checks. So sad but so true.

  18. It is a very serious issue that challenges the credibility of our federal government.
    The threat of mixed messages? It’s judgement day!

  19. Justice delayed is justice denied and boy have we seen a whole lot of delay! World War II was won faster than this case’s timeframe. Your tax dollars at work…LOL!

  20. Obama kept Leonhart around to do the dirty work that a progressive doesn’t have the guts to do… oh, Obama’s not a progressive? Never mind. I guess Obama thinks he’ll end up like Carter (or JFK) if he sticks his neck out. Isn’t there one damn Democrat that will ever roll back Nixon’s dirty work? Barry did mutter the “science” word at one time but that was during an election. So we should all know not to believe his lying ass this time around.

  21. We live by the Golden Rule – he who has the gold rules. In other words plutocracy. The only problem with that is – they take their rule to no end. We just have to remind them – “Without the people they have nothing to rule.” They’re the boss – and – we’re nothing – so! – they’re the boss of nothing – and – 100% of nothing is nothing.

  22. What’s the point? You know they’re just going to lie to you about the results.

  23. I thought the government had already reclassified marijuana to Schedule 2. If you get cancer you can take their pills. If you want to use it to prevent the formation of tumors in the first place, tough luck.
    What’s the deal
    [Paul Armentano responds: Cannabis is classified under federal law as a schedule I controlled substance — the most restrictive category. Synthetic THC, when formulated in the prescription drug dronabinol is schedule III.]

  24. what happened to our revolution, regardless, change at times comes with a kick in the butt, Only In America, there are men and women ready and armed to bring down the cowards who covet places of power

  25. Prepare your bundle, the time is close, when Jesus was nailed up on that high cross He Witnessed, he looked into the faces of the people

  26. Millions of people now depend on keeping the War on Drugs going. Police, agents, soldiers, guards, lawyers, judges, nurses, doctors, and a vast army of support staff for each sector, not to mention ancillary industries.
    And the government has spent untold billions on propaganda over many generations.
    How could any politician fight this monster? If they were to do the right thing, they would be attacked by the brainwashed masses and by the Incarceration Industrial Complex.
    The US nation will fall before it will end prohibition.
    P.S. The last time I used cannabis, Jimmy Carter was President. In the mean time, most of my family have died of cancer, and I now have tumors growing inside me. It is too bad that we live in this era of tyrany and ignorance.

  27. It’s back in the lap of Michelle Leonhart, so nothing is going to change so long as her mission statement hasn’t changed. I didn’t see a synopsis of the HHS report, except that the federal government has not responded. Without a scientific review by HHS of the evidence and their acknowledgement that there are some medical uses of cannabis it’s dead. Can you force HHS to get cannabis off the DEA and UMiss to do their own testing if they won’t rely on outside professional studies and research? They’ll need the funding for that approved every step of the way. Leonhart will drag her feet so long as possible to prevent anything that might reduce the funding of her bureaucratic empire.

  28. The DEA was established in 1973 by President Richard Nixon. My how they have grown! If only we could model and find the same degree of success with our other federal services and “benefits”. Although the “War On Drugs” is a lost cause, they have effectively sown fear, and prejudice, created a huge class of people who either secretly use recreation drugs, or have been arrested and pay the penalty (like Patricia Spottedcrow in OK).
    Any attempt to legitimize and remove the stereotype that cannabis has been defined as in our society is nearly impossible to remove. Cannabis/aka marijuana is the stepping stone to HELL. And the feds, whoever is in power, know that, so why do anything? It’s a dead plant… the people who want to use it, dead people.
    What amazes me is we’ve “seen” alcohol prohibition come and go, with a lot of deaths and violence; we’ve seen two world wars c&g; we’ve seen, McCarthism c&g; the Cold War, a Civil Rights Revolution; and long past, cannabis is still considered the most beneficial; yet deadliest plant on the planet!
    Makes no sense, and if we don’t push to get cannabis rescheduled or descheduled, now, I’m afraid it never will be.
    Yes, I believe Obama is afraid he’ll not get his 2nd term, like Carter didn’t. And Carter had the balls to legalize cannabis, along with home brew. What Obama is missing is the greatest opportunity in American History – REAL CHANGE!!! Activate the scientific consciousness. Create real Democracy. Rebirth the US Constitution; do away with the blighted past cursing Washington. Put this country back into the votes and hands of the American people. Tell Obama to honor his pre-election vows or face failure, but not like President Jimmy Carter, he was honorable and did what he knew was right for the People. He failed not from trying, but from trying.
    Cannabis is an herb… from God… ask the feds to remove “In God We Trust” from our money.

  29. Legalizing , regulating and taxing marijuana is and means controlling the substance. It still will be a controlled substance,so make it legal already. Control the substance not the people , culture and beleifs. To do otherwise is not wise.

  30. Prepare for disappointment, folks. With Leonhart in charge, this lawsuit’s going nowhere. We’re talking about the woman who’s in favor of reinstating alcohol prohibition, remember?

  31. America is $15,000,000,000,000 in debt. Yet our evil leaders keep borrowing money to other countries. School budgets are being slashed. Welfare is being cut. Yet those damn planes and helicopters keep flying around, fueled by tax dollars, fighting a war against marijuana. Do you think the people in Joplin, Missouri want to keep sending tax dollars to DEA assholes to fight this war on a plant? Or maybe that money could go to help them rebuild. All these disaters could be handled with ease if we weren`t wasting money on war on a plant. As long as Satan`s minion of drunken hypocrites controls are country, there will never be a change.
    Oh and about New Yorks smoking ban in “Family Friendly” parks, Do they still allow drunk pediphiles to drink alcohol in some of these places. Can you say hypocrite?
    Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the park. By me some beer, and some wine coolers, getting drunk around children is fun for drunk fools.
    Good luck to all of you putting your neck out for legalization.

  32. The DEA is a waste of our money, they do nothing except run our lives. We all had parents and i do not want ypou in my business. Nixon’s parting shot!

    In days, we could finally see the beginning of the end of the ‘war on drugs’. This expensive war has completely failed to curb the plague of drug addiction, while costing countless lives, devastating communities, and funneling trillions of dollars into violent organized crime networks.
    Experts all agree that the most sensible policy is to regulate, but politicians are afraid to touch the issue. In days, a global commission including former heads of state and foreign policy chiefs of the UN, EU, US, Brazil, Mexico and more will break the taboo and publicly call for new approaches including decriminalization and regulation of drugs.
    This could be a once-in-a-generation tipping-point moment — if enough of us call for an end to this madness. Politicians say they understand that the war on drugs has failed, but claim the public isn’t ready for an alternative. Let’s show them we not only accept a sane and humane policy — we demand it. Sign the petition and share with everyone –if we reach 1 million voices, it will be personally delivered to world leaders by the global commission.

  34. We should file a lawsuit against the Government for all the freedoms they have taken for the people in the nation who like or would like to try harmless substances that can even help or enchance them.

  35. 36. TheOracal
    Lay every shred of evidence/research – from every scientific source – on the table – and – let the evidence speak for itself. If Michelle Leonhart withholds evidence – which would be a good thing – perhaps withholding evidence would be appropriate action against her. This should be presented to a candid audience – The American People – in its entirety. The absolute truth is in the science.

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