Federal District Court Judge Asks: Should Federal Law Classify Cannabis As One Of The Nation’s Most Dangerous Drugs?

Marijuana and the LawTestimony regarding the constitutionality of the federal statute designating marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance will be taken on Monday, October 27 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California in the case of United States v. Pickard, et. al., No. 2:11-CR-0449-KJM.

Members of Congress initially categorized cannabis as a Schedule I substance, the most restrictive classification available, in 1970. Under this categorization, the plant is defined as possessing “a high potential for abuse, … no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, … [and lacking] accepted safety for … use … under medical supervision.”

Expert witnesses for the defense – including Drs. Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University in New York City, retired physician Phillip Denny, and Greg Carter, Medical Director of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington – will testify that the accepted science is inconsistent with the notion that cannabis meets these Schedule I criteria.

“[I]t is my considered opinion that including marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is counter to all the scientific evidence in a society that uses and values empirical evidence,” Dr. Hart declared. “After two decades of intense scientific inquiry in this area, it has become apparent the current scheduling of cannabis has no footing in the realities of science and neurobiology.”

The government intends to call Bertha Madras, Ph.D., 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.

Additional evidence has been presented by way of declarations by Marine Sgt. Ryan Begin, a veteran of the Iraq War; Jennie Stormes, the mother of a child suffering from Dravet Syndrome – a pediatric form of epilepsy that has been shown in preliminary trials to respond to specific compounds in the cannabis plant; James Nolan, Ph.D. an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at West Virginia University and a former crime analyst for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Christopher Conrad, noted cannabis author, archivist, and cultivation expert.

This is the first time in recent memory that a federal judge has granted an evidentiary hearing on a motion challenging the statute which classifies cannabis to be one of the most dangerous illicit substances in the nation. Attorneys Zenia Gilg and Heather Burke, both members of the NORML Legal Committee, contend that the federal government’s present policies facilitating the regulated distribution of cannabis in states such as Colorado and Washington can not be reconciled with the insistence that the plant is deserving of its Schedule I status under federal law.

They write: “In effect, the action taken by the Department of Justice is either irrational, or more likely proves the assertions made in Part I (B) of this Brief: marijuana does not fit the criteria of a Schedule I Controlled Substance.”

Speaking recently in a taped interview with journalist Katie Couric, United States Attorney General Eric Holder expressed the need to revisit cannabis’ Schedule I placement under federal law. Holder said, “[T]he question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that I think we need to ask ourselves, and use science as the basis for making that determination.”

The testimonial part of the evidentiary hearing in United States v. Pickard, et. al., is expected to last three days.

127 thoughts

  1. Amazing and painful reading all these sincere and relevant responses to this topic.

    This last – “It might just be me. I’m stoned”, sums it up.

    All of this because of a federal court case challenging the Scheduling Act, if it is at all doing that, and not simply challenging the power of the federal government over the People.

    Technically, in times of peace, which we are within, the people have freedom. Technically we all know the laws against cannabis/marijuana don’t hold water. Currently the scheduling of marijuana or marihuana as a Schedule One drug is both bogus and ludicrous.

    But the law is the law, and despite the politicians we elect, We the People decide what’s right. And we’re doing that.

    This federal case means something, but not everything.

    Do not forget… cannabis is legal in two states! You can go to the store and buy it! Yeah, here in NE that is a long way away. But it’s still a fact. In 20+ other states it’s legal for medical use. And in 2+ cities it’s not a crime.

    There was a fairy tale in which a character pretended to be who he was not… or was it the Emperor Who Wears No Clothes? He still wears more clothes, only now the fog is lifting…

  2. Bob Kat, if the DEA would actually follow the law which explains in detail what is schedule one and what is not them marijuana would be listed in schedule 4 or 5. Instead, they abuse the authority given and just “declare marijuana” a schedule one material. It doesn’t matter if Congress added a line in the CSA saying marijuana is a schedule one material–all the DEA has to do is overrule them; go to court and get it rescheduled. It is part of their jobs, but they seem to be under the impression that abusing people based on heresay is the behavior of Respects Officials? Give me a break.

    Like in that Dave Chappelle skit about the “fif amendment”, I’d like to piss in their faces.

  3. @ Dave…

    Something in the way I said it? Imagine if alcohol prohibition still raged on, which fortunately it doesn’t. But if it did, I might just be so damn tired of it that I might make the statement: “maybe it’s just me, I’m drunk”.

    I am not at all sure what you mean when you say, “…give me a break”? Where did I mention “the behavior of Respected Officials”? In an earlier comment?

    Many so called “respected officials” are abusing We the People. Not just the DEA. Marijuana laws are bogus, ludicrous and undermine the whole foundation of our living in a Free Country. It breeds contempt and confusion towards laws meant to protect us. It makes criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens and the law kills people, not the marijuana.

    Now maybe I misunderstand you and you’re in favor of marijuana being illegal. Though i don’t think so.

    Marijuana simply does not fall under any guidelines set forth by Nixon’s CSA. His Shafer Committee said it themselves: “It should be decriminalized”. They said nothing about any other Scheduling, neither 2 – 5.

    Maybe it’s just me, as I’m not stoned right now!

  4. @Dave,

    The time it takes for Judge Mueller’s decision to materialize i believe has been kicked down the road to 2016 elections. Which is not a bad thing when one condiders that legslizing marijuana is clearly a bipartisan agreement. Alaska is Republican. Oregon is Democratic. Do the math, and the beauty of legalization is that we are gaining on all three branches of the government equally.
    I predict, since the Florida vote, that an apellate court will kick the can so the Supreme Court wont decide on this case until after 2016. But hey, after 75 years of ptohibition? 2 years aint $#!+!

  5. I’m a 50 yr old man who on ocassion will indulge. I’m a hard working individual and love my country. I cannabis is a good thing for relaxation and helps immensely with my pain that seems to never end some days. I have old injuries that out of nowhere flair up. If we were able to go to a pantry to get it here in NY that would be great! But we are forced into a world of thugs and thieves who would rob anyone to get what they want to purchase it. NY has too many bureaucrats and we who use occasionally for relaxation and pain are the real victims of this old law! Idiots exist in our society… criminals are everywhere and I don’t want to be a victim anymore! Please reclassify this very good drug? And I currently am not stoned!

  6. The best thing about deliberations like this is it gives more time, for us to simply submit an urgent mention, that the Constitution is originally made of same substance. “Why didn’t you just say, so? You could have saved us decades of considerations!”

  7. to Norml: thank you for your article. Question: What is the status of this court case today?

    Where can I send “my Testimony” concerning MJ?
    I would like to submit my personal “cures”.

    All in all Marijuana is an adaptgen. This means MJ can “adapt” to almost any “disease”!

    GINSENG is another “adaptgen”. (sp.) thanks AR

  8. My comment: If this court case does not reschedule MJ (which I think the court will)

    then the only other alternative is: “A Million Marijuana March (all states invited)
    Washington DC 2015 2016. The people will win!

  9. My comment (to the court): “If Marinol is THC; and if THC is Marijuana; then the FDA has already approved MJ/THC as a prescription.

    So MJ is already approved for medicinal use.
    All the rest is “hogwash”. Time has come today no more time to lose write to the Court!

  10. ps Marinol has nothing to do with “pain”; I used Marinol for 3 yrs. nothing to the drug !
    waste of time and money! I would use Marinol only if I could find no other source of THC.

    Buddy I would use Oak Moss; which IS Marinol!


    I will return with my results next month. AR

  12. Very simply put. This is not an evil drug and should be allowed by all states to be grown for the patients by the patients.

  13. Cannabis is one of many herbs that act as adaptogens, a compound that increases one’s ability to adapt to environmental factors, including physical and emotional stress.

    Ginseng is another adaptogen.

    War on Ginseng?

  14. @Julian

    2 years aint $#!+! – Julian

    It may depend on one’s age?

    I imagine many elderly people who would benefit from cannabis therapy today who will most certainly be dead in two years.

    How long would two years be to you if you had two years to live?

    Shame on America!

  15. @ Julian and Eric…

    Correction, that should read: ” I image there are many people who would benefit from cannabis, especially those over 18, the elderly and those who are sick and dying.”

    People can legally take a bullet or be blown up serving our country, but they are forbidden use of a plant that is extraordinarily beneficial? If marijuana were available to those 18 or older, we might not only benefit as a society, but many may not go on to become tobacco or alcohol users; many may actually see their path ahead. I know I did at age 19.

    Whoever suggested the only people “entitled” to use marijuana must be dying and in hospice care? Whoever thought that up must be an ideological zealot!

  16. I think it should be REMOVED from the schedule – just like alcohol and tobacco. It is food, medicine and a host of other potentials – the law against it has been unjustified and the people have allowed it…….. TIME TO STAND UP!

  17. what’s up, sc checking in, I just to say that the only problem I’ve had out of weed is that it’s illegal, men it is time to strike up that March! if the courts won’t grant it to the lawyers fighting for the change then we need to rally up together and put the PEOPLE back in “for the people by the people!”

    if anybody want to March on this issue for real let ya boy know we’ll bring the confederate atw back n this motha… I’ll personally go start campaigning for that trip,so y’all lmk if y’all want do this jingfling@gmail.com, hmu sc ppl we need to give it a shot anyway.

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