Cannabis activists are suing the DEA and Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the classification of weed as a Schedule I drug.
The complaint, which was filed by a group of five activists, is against the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). According to the suit, the Schedule I status of cannabis—a category which also includes substances like LSD and heroin—is unconstitutional due to the “irrational” nature of the typification. As The Cannabist reported, the lawsuit states that weed fails to meet the three major requirements for a Schedule I ruling: a strong and/or likely possibility of addiction and abuse, no medicinal value, and no possible way to be safely tested or used under medical supervision.
Among the five plaintiffs include former NFL player Marvin Washington, 11-year-old Alexis Bortell, and an Iraq war veteran. Also named as a defendant in the suit is Charles Rosenberg, the DEA’s current acting administrator.
The Complaint Against Sessions and Company
Much of what the lawsuit deems irrational regarding cannabis’ categorization as a Schedule I drug has to do with its medicinal uses, which have been proven time and time again,
“Indeed, the Federal Government has admitted repeatedly in writing and implemented national policy reflecting that Cannabis does in fact, have medical uses and can be used and tested safely under medical supervision,” the complaint states. “On that basis, the federal government has exploited cannabis economically for more than a decade by securing a medical cannabis patent and entering into license agreements with medical licensees.”
This particular point rings truest for Bortell, who suffers from a severe seizure disorder known as intractable epilepsy and uses medicinal cannabis to mitigate symptoms that other conventional medications cannot. While it is legal for her to use medical marijuana in her home state, her suit stems from her inability to travel without her medication on hand due to current federal law. Another plaintiff, U.S. Army veteran Jose Balen, faces a strikingly similar problem: on top of not being able to travel with medicinal cannabis to treat his PTSD contracted from his 14-month tour in Iraq in 2003.
Another plaintiff, U.S. Army veteran Jose Balen, faces a strikingly similar problem. On top of being unable to travel with medicinal cannabis—which he uses to treat his PTSD contracted from his 14-month tour in Iraq in 2003—Balen cannot enter a military base under CSA’s current ruling.
As it stands, the complaint is diametrically opposed to the stance of Sessions, whose opinions on cannabis legalization are well-documented. Earlier this week, the attorney general implied that he would use the current administration’s anti-legalization platform to implement more rigorous punitive measures against those found in possession of cannabis.
Final Hit: Cannabis Activists Are Suing the DEA Over Schedule I Status
But what are the other reason cannabis activists are suing the DEA? Succincctly put, the suit concerns more than medicinal cannabis use. Consider the imperatives of Washington, who as a person of color is unable to fund a medicinal marijuana business under the Federal Minority Business Enterprise program. The reason why? The history of the CSA classification as a whole.
“The Nixon Administration ushered the CSA through Congress and insisted that cannabis be included on Schedule I so that African Americans and war protesters could be raided, prosecuted and incarcerated without identifying the actual and unconstitutional basis for the government’s actions,” according to the complaint.
Filed by New York attorney Michael S. Hiller, the suit—if ruled in favor of the plaintiffs—will not cancel the current laws set in place, but will instead stop DEA agents from carrying out enforcement.