Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215</p>
On Tuesday, October 16, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments 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.
The lawsuit was brought by a coalition of organizations and individual patients, including Americans for Safe Access, 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,” stated Tyler. “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.”