In a striking blow to cannabis advocates across the country, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a landmark case challenging the DEA scheduling of marijuana.
While it is a major disappointment, this move was not totally unexpected considering it is an election years, and we are mere weeks away from heading to the polls. Traditionally, lawmakers will punt decisions on controversial topics until after an election takes place because of the effect it can have on a voter heading to the polls.
What was the case?
Washington V. Barr (Marvin Washington, et al, Petitioners v. William P. Barr, Attorney General, et al.)
This lawsuit was started by a former NFL football player by the name of Marvin Washington. There are several plaintiffs including Jose Belen, a military veteran, as well as a sick patient named Alexis Bortell (12 year old girl who sued Jeff Sessions, a former U.S. Attorney General fired by President Trump early in his first term).
In addition to group of people listed above, the following advocacy groups joined the fight over the course of the last three years:
- the International Cannabis Bar Association
- National Cannabis Industry Association
- Last Prisoner Project
- Minority Cannabis Business Association
- Americans For Safe Access
- American Journal of Endocannabinoid Medicine (publication)
Initially filed in court back in 2017, this case has been making its way through the courts at a snail's pace. Taking on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is not an easy task and they are staffed with an army of attorney's, ready and able to fight these cases. They also have an endless supply of money at their disposal, making this arm of the justice department a serious opponent.
The lead attorney, Michael Hiller, Hiller PC founder and Managing Principal, gave the following statement to MG, which can read in full here.
"Nineteen organizations, two of America's leading cannabis researchers, and seven members of Congress have submitted amicus briefs in support of our appeal. Those numbers are truly historic. To provide some perspective, it is rare that even a single amicus brief is submitted at this stage."
It is unbelievable that the U.S. government can categorize cannabis as a drug with no accepted medical value and high potential for abuse when they own patents that clearly show the opposite.
It is not a secret that the government has been aware of the medical benefits of marijuana for more than 30 years but between all the cash from the war on drugs and the powerful pharmaceutical lobby, it will be a miracle if any meaningful changes take place soon.
If you are looking for ways to get involved, you can reach out to your congressman and local representatives to let them know how you feel! The more people that speak out, the better off the movement will be. Remember, this is an election year, and if you haven't already, you will be casting life changing votes in a matter of days!