Closing Arguments in Marijuana Rescheduling Case

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 1.39.43 PMFrom High Times By Paul Armentano · Thu Feb 19, 2015

Yesterday in Sacramento a federal judge heard closing arguments in a motion challenging the constitutionality of marijuana’s Schedule I classification. At issue is whether a rational basis exists for the government’s contention that cannabis is properly designated as a schedule I substance – defined as possessing a “high potential for abuse,” “no currently accepted medical use in treatment,” and “a lack of accepted safety … under medical supervision.” A federal court has not heard evidence on the matter since the early 1970s.

Lawyers for the federal government argue that it is rational for the government to maintain the plant’s prohibitive status as long as there remains any dispute among experts in regard to its safety and efficacy. Defense counsel – attorneys Zenia Gilg and Heather Burke of the NORML Legal Committee – contend that the federal law prohibiting Justice Department officials from interfering with the facilitation of the regulated distribution of cannabis in over 20 US states cannot be reconciled with the government’s continued insistence that the plant is deserving of its Schedule I status.

In October, defense counsel and experts presented evidence over a five-day period arguing that the scientific literature is not supportive of the plant’s present categorization. “Numerous clinical trials have been conducted using whole plant marijuana and have concluded the evidence strongly suggests therapeutic value,” defense counsel affirmed in a written brief filed with the court last month. “Physicians in 23 states and the District of Columbia have been recommending whole plant cannabis for treatment of a myriad of medical conditions. The United States, through SAMHSA (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of HHS), holds a patent [on the therapeutic utility of the plant.]”

“… It is unimaginable to believe that if heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or even over-the-counter medications were being distributed in 23 states and the District of Columbia, Congress and the President would abdicate all regulatory authority to those jurisdictions, and then cut off all funds … to intervene in related distribution activities. … Even the most vivid imagination would be hard pressed to reconcile such action with a ‘rational belief’ that marijuana is one of the most dangerous drugs in the nation.”

In a brief filed with the court by the federal government, it contends: “Congress’ decision to treat marijuana as a controlled substance was and remains well within the broad range of permissible legislative choices. Defendants appear to argue that Congress was wrong or incorrectly weighed the evidence. Although they failed to prove even that much, it would be insufficient. Rational basis review does not permit the Courts to ‘second guess’ Congress’ conclusions, but only to enjoin decisions that are totally irrational or without an ‘imaginable’ basis.”

They add: “Congress is not required to be ‘right,’ nor does it matter if the basis on which Congress made its decision turns out to be ‘wrong.’ All that is required is that Congress could rationally have believed that its action – banning the production and distribution of marijuana – would advance its indisputably legitimate interests in promoting public health and welfare. Because qualified experts disagree, it is not for the Courts to decide the issue and the statute must be upheld.”

The Judge is anticipated to rule on defense’s motion within 30 days.

Legal briefs in the case, United States v. Pickard, et. al., No. 2:11-CR-0449-KJM, are available online here.


2 thoughts on “Closing Arguments in Marijuana Rescheduling Case

  1. We all have been wrong about it.

    Thursday, 19 February 2015
    Risk Assessment Study: Cannabis’ Purported Dangers Have Been Overestimated

    Dresden, Germany: Health risks associated with the use of cannabis have likely been “overestimated” while the dangers associated with the consumption of alcohol “have been commonly underestimated,” according to the findings of risk assessment study published in the journal Nature: Scientific Reports.

    Donnerstag, 19. Februar 2015
    Risikobewertung Studie: Die angeblichen Gefahren die durch Cannabiskonsum entstehen sollen, sind enorm überschätzt worden.

    Dresden, Deutschland: Die Gesundheitsrisiken, die mit der Verwendung von Cannabis verbunden wurden, sind wahrscheinlich nach den Ergebnissen der Risikobewertung Studie, welche in der Zeitschrift Nature veröffentlicht wurde, “überschätzt” worden, während die Gefahren die im Zusammenhang mit dem Konsum von Alkohol verbunden sind, “häufig unterschätzt” wurden: siehe Wissenschaftlicher Bericht

    Jueves, 19 de febrero 2015
    Evaluación de riesgos de Estudio: Peligros Supuestos cannabis ‘se han sobrestimado

    Dresde, Alemania: Los riesgos de salud asociados con el consumo de cannabis ha sido probablemente “sobrestimado”, mientras que los peligros asociados con el consumo de alcohol “han sido comúnmente subestimado”, según las conclusiones del estudio de evaluación de riesgo publicado en la revista Nature: informes científicos .

    Четверг, 19 Февраля 2015
    ОЦЕНКА РИСКОВ обучения: предполагаемых опасностях каннабис “были завышены

    Дрезден, Германия: Риски для здоровья, связанные с использованием каннабиса были, скорее всего “переоценить”, а опасности, связанные с потреблением алкоголя “были широко недооценивать”, в соответствии с выводами исследования по оценке риска, опубликованной в журнале Nature: Научные доклады ,

    Thursday, 19 Février 2015
    Évaluation des risques Étude: Dangers prétendue cannabis ont été surestimée

    Dresde, Allemagne: risques pour la santé associés à la consommation de cannabis ont probablement été “surestimé” tandis que les dangers liés à la consommation d’alcool »ont été couramment sous-estimé”, selon les résultats de l’étude d’évaluation des risques publiée dans la revue Nature: Rapports scientifiques .

    Giovedi, 19 February 2015
    Risk Assessment Study: Pericoli presunta Cannabis ‘essere stato sovrastimato

    Dresda, Germania: rischi per la salute connessi con l’uso di cannabis sono probabilmente stati “sopravvalutato”, mentre i pericoli connessi con il consumo di alcol “sono stati comunemente sottovalutato”, secondo i risultati dello studio di valutazione del rischio pubblicato sulla rivista Nature: Rapporti scientifici .


  2. I have been dealing with perscription medications for ADHD/bipolar since I was five I hated em was a zombie and the cocktail mix they had me on which consisted of 49 seperate medications in a 24/hr period it led me to a lawsuit against the company that made resperadol (safe n legal) but led to having gynecomastia and extreme weight issues but since I was 13 I been smoking cannabis and by the time I was eighteen I had noticed that I like this I can control my self with out all that toxic junk so I made a choice I took myself off the legal medication and started my road to being #illegallyhealed I am now 26 yrs old and happy with my decition I made to cannabis and I will continue to use and support it n hey if the government can t see the fact it is not beneficial at all then y are we voting for them marijuana supporters in this country t 10-1 in this country we could easily vote new people in that will support and help end the prohibition on cannabis


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