A diverse group of citizens in Michigan recently filed a lawsuit against the state for continuing to list cannabis as a controlled substance. Ultimately, the group is suing to force the state to change the way cannabis is classified.
Doing so, they believe, will limit law enforcement’s ability to go after people for marijuana-related offenses. Additionally, removing marijuana from the state’s list of controlled substances will align with the state’s other cannabis laws, which now allow for the legal use of medical and recreational marijuana.
Citizens Sue the Michigan Board of Pharmacy
The suit was officially filed last week. The group behind the suit includes John Sinclair, a nationally-recognized poet and longtime marijuana activist, Dr. Christian Bogner, a medical marijuana researcher, Josey Scoggin, a medical marijuana patient, and Paul Littler, a pharmacist.
Additionally, the group also included larger advocacy groups such as NORML of Michigan and the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association.
Specifically, the group is suing the Michigan Board of Pharmacy and the Board’s chairwoman Nichole Cover. At issue is the Board’s continued classification of cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance.
By definition, this classification is reserved for substances with little to no recognized medical benefit and substances with a high risk of abuse. In theory, this classification leaves the door open for cops and other law enforcement to conduct raids or otherwise go after people for possessing or consuming weed.
And according to those who filed the lawsuit, all of this is in blatant contradiction to more recent state laws. In particular, it contradicts the state’s legal medical marijuana program. Additionally, it contradicts the state’s recent legalization of adult-use cannabis.
“We’re talking out of both sides of our mouth,” Matthew Abel, a cannabis lawyer, told The Detroit News. “On the one hand, we’re licensing to patients for medical use, and on the other, we’re saying it has no medical use.”
Potentially Big Legal Implications
In short, the lawsuit is pushing state lawmakers to bring all legal definitions of cannabis into alignment.
Essentially, those filing the suit argue that if the state has legalized cannabis for medical and recreational consumption, then it is implicitly recognizing its potential benefits. And that, they argue, means marijuana should no longer be a Schedule I controlled substance.
For this group of activists, the suit is about much more than ensuring that all laws match one another. It’s about removing the possibility that people could face criminal charges for marijuana.
“If they decided to use this and enforce it, the history is that police will use any excuse and incriminate people and put them in prison, on probation, take their money, and take their house,” Sinclair said.
Interestingly, Sinclair has a long personal history with all this. Back in the 1960s, he was arrested for marijuana. And he was originally sentenced to 9.5 to 10 years in prison. After high-profile advocacy efforts, he was eventually released. Sinclair has been a leading cannabis activist ever since.
“This is what they do with our laws,” he told the media. “This is why the laws have to be completely amended so they can’t do this anymore. Period. Case closed.”