U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Will Hear Oral Arguments Tuesday
DPA Statement: Feds’ Claim of “No Medical Use” Ignores Science
For the first time in 20 years, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments on Tuesday, October 16, in a case challenging the Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision to designate marijuana as a Schedule I substance. Schedule I is the most restrictive category for controlled substances, including those drugs defined as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
This case began more than a decade ago, when the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) filed a petition to remove marijuana from Schedule I.
|Joe Elford, Americans for Safe Access: “This is a rare opportunity for patients to confront politically motivated decision-making with scientific evidence of marijuana’s medical efficacy”|
“Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court,” Joe Elford, chief counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), told The Guardian. “This is a rare opportunity for patients to confront politically motivated decision-making with scientific evidence of marijuana’s medical efficacy.”
“At the heart of this issue of the scheduling of marijuana and the federal government’s refusal to look at the research that’s out there every day is a bigger gap growing between patients and doctors and the federal government,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of ASA.
The lawsuit was brought by a coalition of organizations and individual patients, including ASA, the Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis, and Patients out of Time. Since California became the first U.S. state to pass and implement a medical marijuana law in 1996, 16 other states and the District of Columbia have followed suit by passing legislation or voter initiatives that allow certain patients to legally access marijuana.
The claim of no medical value contradicts the growing body of research suggesting the contrary.
“There is a plethora of scientific evidence establishing marijuana’s medical safety and efficacy,” said Jasmine Tyler, acting director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “However, when it comes to marijuana and the federal government, politics routinely trumps science.”
Every independent commission to examine marijuana policy has concluded that its harms have been greatly exaggerated – from the 1944 LaGuardia Report, to President Nixon’s 1972 Schaffer Commission report, to the Institute of Medicine’s congressionally-mandated 1999 report.
“This case is yet another opportunity for the federal government to acknowledge what patient, doctors, researchers and scientists have been telling us for years: marijuana has therapeutic and medicinal benefits,” Tyler said. “Considering that three-quarters of Americans support medical marijuana, the Obama administration should have the courage and common sense to let science resolve the controversy over marijuana’s medical uses.”