U.S. Court Of Appeals Balks On Cannabis Rescheduling Decision

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the federal government’s decision to classify cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance (without any accepted medical utility) is arguably “irrational,” but it is not unconstitutional. By doing so, it has deferred to act on cannabis rescheduling.

In the case ‘United States of America v. Green’, the defendants argued that cannabis’s scheduling in the US Controlled Substances Act “has no rational basis because cannabis does not meet the statutory criteria for inclusion on Schedule I,” reported NORML.

Under the law, Schedule I substances —by definition— must meet three specific criteria: “A high potential for abuse,” “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” and “a lack of accepted safety for use (…) under medical supervision.”

“The Act’s scheduling criteria are largely irrelevant to our constitutional review because the rational basis test asks only whether Congress could have any conceivable basis for including marijuana on the strictest schedule,” said Judges for the US Court of Appeals rejecting the defendant’s argument.

“Because there are other plausible considerations that could have motivated Congress’s scheduling of marijuana, we conclude that its classification does not violate the [plaintiffs’] due process or equal protection rights.”

Moreover, Judges acknowledged that the defendants “convincingly argue that it is irrational for the government to maintain that marijuana has no accepted medical use.” Nevertheless, they ruled that the argument is insufficient to compel the Court to determine that cannabis’ Schedule I status is unconstitutional.

“As we have explained,” judges concluded, the defendants in this case “must do more than show that the legislature’s stated assumptions are irrational; [they] must discredit any conceivable basis which could be advanced to support the challenged provision, regardless of whether that basis has a foundation in the record, or actually motivated the legislature.”

“This ruling is disappointing, but not unanticipated,” expressed Paul Armentano, NORML’s Deputy Director. “Judges have repeatedly ruled that it is the responsibility of federal lawmakers, not the courts, to repeal the federal prohibition of marijuana. Rather than expect relief from the federal courts, citizens need to continue to pressure their federally elected officials to repeal this admittedly ‘irrational’ and destructive policy.”


This article was originally published on Benzinga and appears here with permission.

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