Today in Sacramento, California, Federal Judge Kimberly J.Mueller declined to consider the Schedule 1 classification of marijuana. The ruling came in a case involving a group of individuals accused of conspiring to grow “at least 1,000 pot plants” on land that included the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California. The defense had sought to dismiss the charges on the grounds that Schedule 1 classification of cannabis was incorrect and unconstitutional.
JUDGE PUNTS ON CLASSIFICATION OF MARIJUANA AS SCHEDULE 1 DRUG
“At some point in time, a court may decide this status to be unconstitutional,” Judge Mueller said from the bench. “But this is not the court and not the time.”
The defense had argued that marijuana is far less harmful than some legal drugs, and that it’s classification as Schedule 1 was against scientific evidence and arbitrary in violation of the Constitution.
Prosecutors countered by arguing that Judge Mueller did not have jurisdiction to consider classification of marijuana, and additionally, that marijuana met all the criteria for a Schedule 1 drug.
Marijuana advocates had been hoping that a favorable ruling in the case would have been another small but significant step toward getting marijuana removed from its Schedule 1 classification. Despite the disappointing ruling, Judge Mueller’s decision to conduct a hearing on the facts of marijuana, including expert testimony, could mark a turning point in how judges consider the classification issue in future cases.
Judge Mueller scheduled a hearing on May 6 to set a trial date. An appeal is expected in the case.
Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, was quoted as saying:
“We applaud Judge Mueller for having the courage to hear this issue and provide it the careful consideration it deserves. While we are disappointed with this ruling, it changes little. We always felt this had to ultimately be decided by the Ninth Circuit and we have an unprecedented record for the court to consider.
“In the interim, it is our hope that lawmakers move expeditiously to change public policy. Presently, bipartisan legislation is before the House and Senate to recognize cannabis’ therapeutic utility and to reschedule it accordingly and we encourage members of Congress to move forward expeditiously to enact this measure.”
“The continued Schedule I classification of cannabis, in 2015, in self-evidently ridiculous. But unfortunately, the law may be ridiculous and still pass constitutional muster.”
As noted, disappointing in a “newsy” sort of way for sure but the ruling wasn’t surprising. Not many judges are going to want to wade into basically overturning the Controlled Substance Act, especially in a case such as this. Ultimately, it will be up to Congress to do its job to make sensible laws that protect and serve the people. Hopefully, the passage of CARERS Act will be a first step in the performance of this duty.