Despite the progress marijuana made with the federal government in 2014, including the elimination of DEA funds that allow the interference with medical marijuana states and the freedom for Native Americans to cultivate and distribute recreational ganja on tribal lands, the Obama Administration still refuses to admit that weed is less harmful than heroin. Earlier last week, the president sent one of his suited cronies to provide testimony before a federal judge in California, where he stated that marijuana remains, at least in the eyes of Uncle Sam, a dangerous drug with no medicinal value.
For months, marijuana enthusiasts have waited on bended knee to hear the verdict of a federal case, which could lead to cannabis being reclassified in the United States. Justice Kimberly Mueller was given the task in late October to hear an appeals case involving several men charged with cultivating marijuana on federal land. The defense argues that prosecuting these men was a breach of the constitution, based on its belief that “marijuana does not fit the criteria of a Schedule I Controlled Substance,” and the charges should be dismissed. If Judge Mueller rules in favor of the defendants, that outcome would undoubtedly set into motion a chain of events that would certainly force the federal government to reconsider its position on cannabis plant.
It is perhaps for this reason that Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Broderick showed up in Sacramento on behalf of the Justice Department last Wednesday and delivered a dose of rotten testimony aimed at persuading the judge that marijuana was deserving of its Schedule I classification because it has no medicinal benefit and it is highly abused. In his written testimony, Broderick said that although there is some dispute in regards to whether marijuana is medicine, the federal government has uncovered no significant evidence that proves the drug is safe, even under the guidance of a medical professional.
“This psychoactive, addictive drug is not accepted as safe for medical use at this time, even with medical supervision,” wrote Broderick.
This is an interesting claim, especially considering that President Obama said over a decade ago that the War on Drugs is “an utter failure,” and just last year he told The New Yorker that he did not believe marijuana was any more dangerous than alcohol. Even the head cheese at the U.S. Department of Justice, Eric Holder stated prior to his resignation announcement that it has become necessary to consider removing marijuana from its Schedule I classification of the Controlled Substance Act.
“I think it’s certainly a question that we need to ask ourselves—whether or not marijuana is as serious a drug as is heroin, especially given what we’ve seen recently with regard to heroin, the progression of people using opioids to heroin use, the spread and the destruction that heroin has perpetrated all around our country, and to see, by contrast, what the impact is of marijuana use,” said Holder during an interview with Katie Couric. “Now, it can be destructive, you know, if used in certain ways. But the question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that I think we need to ask ourselves, and use science as the basis for making that determination.”
In addition, Congress recently passed a federal spending bill, which was signed just two-weeks ago by President Obama, that prohibits the Drug Enforcement Administration from using funds to interfere with state medical marijuana laws during this fiscal year. If what Assistant U.S. Attorney Broderick says is true, and marijuana truly does not have any medicinal benefit, then how can Congress justify protecting the medical marijuana community from the wrath of federal prosecution? This is the point attorney Zena Gilg, who is representing the seven defendants, attempted to make in contrast to Broderick’s hypocritical testimony.
Congress cannot “justify a finding that marijuana has no medical benefits while demanding that the distribution of medical marijuana be protected from federal government interference,” wrote Gilig in her statement for the defense.
Judge Mueller ordered the two written statements because she felt there was testimony presented several months ago that did pose the question as to whether marijuana deserved to be classified a Schedule I substance. The defense brought in a team of experts who provided the judge with “new scientific and medical information” to show the reasons cannabis should be removed from this classification, while federal prosecutors offered their own expert witness – a professor of psychobiology at Harvard University and one time representative for the Office of National Drug Control under the George W. Bush Administration.
So, what happens next? Well, Judge Mueller is expected to continue this motion in the next courtroom hearing scheduled for the beginning of February. Although it is not known, the extent of the upcoming hearing, or just how long it will take to deliberate the case, there is a possibility the verdict will go in favor of the defense. However, if this happens, it will not be the golden salvation for pot enthusiasts across the nation as several reports speculate it could be. This is because the case simply questions the Schedule I classification of marijuana, and in no way argues against the evils of prohibition. Unfortunately, even if the ruling in this matter did force the federal government to downgrade the classification of cannabis to a Schedule II or III, it would change nothing in regards to its legal status in the United States. Remember, cocaine is Schedule II and people caught in possession are still being sent to prison.
The most likely scenario is that Judge Mueller will find that while marijuana does not meet the criteria of a Schedule I substance, its listing under the Controlled Substance Act does not carry in weight in relation to the crimes committed by the seven defendants. A ruling of this nature, while somewhat positive, would not have any impact on the reclassification of cannabis.
What do you think? Should the federal government reclassify cannabis? Let us know in the comments below.