NEWS: Federal judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Schedule I marijuana status; DATA: Americans for Safe Access releases 2018 medical marijuana state report cards; GUEST: Dr. Mitch Earleywine counts down the top ten cannabis science studies of February; RANT: Justice Thomas was right – it’s time for a 9th Amendment fight!
A federal district court judge in Manhattan has dismissed a lawsuit challenging marijuana’s status under the Controlled Substances Act. Plaintiffs in the case, which argues that cannabis is improperly classified in the most restrictive category of Schedule I, include former NFL player Marvin Washington and Alexis Bortell, a 12-year-old girl who treats epilepsy with medical marijuana. Attorneys and plaintiffs told Marijuana Moment in advance of oral arguments earlier this month that they were hopeful the case would force the federal government to finally reschedule marijuana. Legalization advocates have long argued that marijuana is improperly classified in Schedule I, which is supposed to be reserved for drugs with no medical value and a high potential for abuse. But the judge wrote that “Even if marijuana has current medical uses, I cannot say that Congress acted irrationally in placing marijuana in Schedule I.”
Marijuana is now legal in nine states, and two U.S. territories could soon join them in ending prohibition. Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo (R) included “legalizing the use and sale of recreational marijuana” in a list of revenue enhancements he sent to lawmakers for consideration on Monday. And lawmakers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) are holding a series of hearings on a marijuana legalization bill this week. Advocates expect they will decide whether to end cannabis prohibition or refer a ballot question to voters in the coming days. The moves to legalize cannabis in Guam and CNMI, in the face of anti-cannabis policy changes from the Trump administration, are part of a widespread pushback against federal prohibition laws that many see as outdated. Days after Sessions’s enforcement policy change, for example, Vermont enacted a new marijuana legalization law. And four or more states are expected to vote on cannabis ballot measures later this year.
A prominent Democratic U.S. senator is slamming pharmaceutical companies for opposing marijuana legalization. “To them it’s competition for chronic pain, and that’s outrageous because we don’t have the crisis in people who take marijuana for chronic pain having overdose issues,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said. “It’s not the same thing. It’s not as highly addictive as opioids are.” “On the federal level, we really need to say it is a legal drug you can access if you need it,” she said. Gillibrand, in an appearance on Good Day New York on Friday morning, was responding to a question about whether marijuana is a “gateway drug” that leads people to try more dangerous substances. “I don’t see it as a gateway to opioids,” she said. “What I see is the opioid industry and the drug companies that manufacture it, some of them in particular, are just trying to sell more drugs that addict patients and addict people across this country.”
President Trump often “leaps into a passionate speech about how drug dealers are as bad as serial killers, and should all get the death penalty,” five sources told news site Axios. The president, inspired by Singapore and other countries that use capital punishment for drug crimes, “would love to have a law to execute all drug dealers,” according to the report. He believes we’ve “got to make drug dealers fear for their lives” because a more health-focused approach “will never work,” the exclusive by Axios says. Last year, a leaked phone transcript quoted Trump praising Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody “war on drugs,” which has led to thousands of extrajudicial killings. “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” the American president was quoted as saying. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing, and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”
The union that represents professional basketball players thinks they should be able to use medical marijuana without being punished for it by the NBA. “My own view is that there are substantial signs that support its efficacy and the value that it has for us, especially pain management,” National Basketball Players Association (NPBA) Executive Director Michele Roberts said in an interview SB Nation published on Monday. “We’re in talks with the league to see where we can go with it.” While Roberts is optimistic that public policies and league rules on cannabis will eventually be changed, she worries that the anti-legalization position taken by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions complicates things. “”We have to protect our players from — my words — a crazed attorney general … I don’t want my guys being arrested at airports in possession of a cannabinoid by some Fed.” Former NBA Commissioner David Stern endorsed removing league penalties for players’ cannabis use last year.
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Tragic murder of my tattoo artist’s friend in Dallas; Trump is said to regularly launch into tirade about executing drug dealers; Part 2 of Dr. Mitch’s countdown of top ten cannabis science stories; Arkansas TV anchor’s disclosure about medical cannabis; Trump attacks Sessions again; Mississippi police chief caught toking on camera.