The US Supreme court on Tuesday declined to hear an appeal from a group of medical marijuana patients and activists in regards to the descheduling of Marijuana at the federal level. Feature photo source: Flickr
The case titled Washington v. Barr was listed among the cases that were denied certiorari in the Supreme Court’s routine announcement circulated early Tuesday morning.
The DEA and Marijuana
As states gear up to legalizing marijuana in the coming months, the Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and LSD.
It is because of this that a lawsuit initially called Washington v. Sessions was filed against the DEA challenging the constitutionality of classification of marijuana.
History of the Lawsuit
The case was first filed back in 2017 by five plaintiffs who argued that the federal prohibition of marijuana, which is listed as a schedule I controlled substance, is unconstitutional.
The five plaintiffs in the case are a combination of medical cannabis patients and activists including former NFL player Marvin Washington, US military veteran Jose Bortell, 12-year-old Colorado medical refugee Alexis Bortell, Jagger Cotte and the Cannabis Cultural Association. The case was led by New York City litigator David C. Holland.
Lawmakers Dismissed the Lawsuit Severally Before Its Appeal To The US Supreme Court
The action initiated three years ago had been declined in a series of lower federal court rulings before the plaintiffs decided to take it up to the high court.
Just six months ago, a federal appeals court dismissed the lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) after the plaintiffs announced they would not pursue an administrative policy change as the court had recommended.
The Plaintiffs Declined to File Their Petition With the DEA
The DEA is notorious for denying petitions that seek to change marijuana’s status under the CSA as it has done frequently in the past.
According to them, a policy change on the drug’s legal status through a petition with the DEA would only work to reclassify marijuana instead of declassifying it all together.
Reclassifying marijuana to a schedule II drug, according to the plaintiffs, would create additional harms and burdens that jeopardize patients’ lives.
Michael Hiller’s Opinion After the US Supreme Court’s Ruling
Speaking about the Supreme court’s decision, Michael Hiller, the pro bono lead counsel in the case said, “For every Brown v. Board of Education, there are dozens of earlier, lesser-known legal battles which set the stage for eventual changes in the law to right the wrongs of the past and the problems of the present. Regrettably, today’s decision falls into the latter category, not the former.”
“We will continue our fight for legalization until the laws criminalizing cannabis are eradicated. This is a civil and human rights issue which, sooner or later, must and will be addressed,” he added.
Sebastian Cotte’s Two Cents On The Supreme Court’s Decision
Jagger Cotte is one of the underage plaintiffs in the case who uses medical marijuana to treat Leigh’s Disease with which he is diagnosed.
Speaking to reporters after the ruling, his father Sebastien Cotte expressed his disappointment.
“While not surprising, as less than one per cent of all petitions to the Supreme Court get a hearing, it is still very disappointing, as we been fighting for this case for over three years now,” Sebastien Cotte told Marijuana Moment.
“However, we must not forget that this case has been groundbreaking on so many levels. Not only a did federal judge say on record that looking at Alexis, Jagger and Jose that it is undeniable that cannabis has medical properties, but we also believe that this case moved the needle closer to descheduling of cannabis by bringing extra awareness to the unfairness of the current classification of cannabis,” he said. “We are confident our case will help another case down the road achieve the ultimate goal, as everyone knows that it is not a question of if cannabis will be descheduled, but when.”