As the marijuana industry explodes across the nation and state laws trend toward legalization and decriminalization, the federal government's staunch stance against the happy little plant may seem at odds with public opinion.
Aside from enjoying the ire of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, marijuana sits at the top of the DEA's list of controlled substances. The only way to knock it down requires a lengthy FDA process that, while progress continues with Phoenix-based researcher Sue Sisley's study, may take years.
But as the old adage goes, there's more than one way to smoke a bowl.
Now, a group of marijuana advocates have recently brought a lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Drug Enforcement Agency challenging the constitutionality marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug.
Drugs populating the highest tier of the list are determined to have "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." You know, like alcohol. This classification puts marijuana alongside drugs like LSD, ecstasy and peyote, and considers it more dangerous than drugs like meth and cocaine.
Makes you wonder if anyone actually tried these drugs before writing laws about them.
How is it that the federal government considers marijuana to have no medicinal value despite the majority of the industry containing the term "medical?"
Well, the short story is that the government needs to be convinced through its own process, which it has made even more difficult for potential marijuana researchers by providing only a limited supply of ditch weed for research.
The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, is a different angle of attack. Plaintiffs say the federal government never actually thought marijuana was as dangerous as its schedule would suggest, which we certainly hope is true because there's enough delusional mania occupying the federal government at the moment.
The complaint claims "the Federal Government has admitted repeatedly in writing and implement national policy reflecting that Cannabis does in fact, have medial uses and can be used and tested safely under medical supervision," The Cannabist reports. "On that basis, the federal government has exploited cannabis economically for more than a decade..."
Further, the complaint even claims the federal government, under Richard Nixon, rushed to outlaw marijuana in 1970 "so that African Americans and war protesters could be aided, prosecuted and incarcerated without identifying the actual and unconstitutional basis for the government's actions."
Now that sounds more like the government we know and despise.
The lawsuit includes an interesting list of plaintiffs including former NFL defensive end Marvin Washington, who played for the Jets; an Iraq War vet with PSTD; two children who use medical marijuana; and New York's Cannabis Cultural Association.
Alexis Bortell, an 11-year-old plaintiff, uses cannabis to treat epilepsy. Jagger Cotte, a 6-year-old plaintiff, was diagnosed with Leigh's Disease, a deadly neurological condition. Both are suing to dispute the federal law prohibiting the transport of marijuana on airplanes, which inhibits their access to the medicine upon which they dependent.
While the suit is still young, and a long legal battle almost certainly looms in the future with little hope of victory, it is a reminder of the ridiculous restrictions posed by federal law that have a real effect on people's lives.