For the longest time, marijuana has dangled in the cross-hairs of law enforcement, despite the fact that there has never been a reported overdose from marijuana consumption.
In an extraordinary provocation of the current federal law regarding marijuana, a U.S. judge in Northern California is expecting to rule on the legitimacy of an act established in 1970, which put marijuana on the most wanted list, alongside drugs as risky as cocaine, heroin, and LSD.
Late last year, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller took a huge step by holding a week long hearing discussing the possible corrective measures that can be made in marijuana's current classification, which is expected to resume next month. Although the judge isn't expected to give her final decision on the case until later this year, this hearing marks the first time that a judge has agreed to hear tangible facts regarding the current classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, according to the 1970 Controlled Substance Act.
Mueller's decision will be based on a pretrial defense motion where alleged marijuana growers in California are being prosecuted against by the federal government.
According to the L.A. Times, the defense team for the marijuana growers claim that the current federal marijuana law is distributed unevenly across the country, giving states that have legalized marijuana their own sovereignty, while negating marijuana's existence in states that have not. They also bring up the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, tobacco and prescription medications.
Federal prosecutors on the other hand, stick by marijuana's Schedule 1 classification, arguing that the drug has no medical value, has high potential for abuse, and is unsafe, despite independent third party research suggesting otherwise. The argument that marijuana has not been around long enough to be studied medically is also brought up by the federal government, who in May of last year, ordered 30 times the amount of marijuana they had needed in the year previous, for medical research.
"The evidence is overwhelming and irrefutable, cannabis has remarkable medicinal qualities which have been known and applied throughout history," remarked attorneys for the growers, in rebuttal of anti-marijuana sentiment brought up by prosecutors.
Efforts to remove marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 drugs have fallen on deaf ears in the past and this time is no different, according to legal analysts. Even if the judge rules in favor of the marijuana growers and the illegitimacy of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug , it will only be applied in this single case, and appeals would be made swiftly. If the appeals courts find the law unconstitutional, than this would mean that western states would be affected by a marijuana re-classification.
Despite legal mud-slinging that's certain to take place before a final ruling is made from the judge later in the year, marijuana is finally getting a chance to contest it's bogus classification as schedule 1 narcotic, and that's not a bad first step. With states such as Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon already in the process of full legalization, it's only a matter of time before federal courts revise an outdated policy. As Zenia K. Gilg, a lawyer for the growers, stated to the L.A. Times " it just shows that this country has recognized that marijuana is less harmful than, I would say, alcohol, and the law prohibiting it is absurd..."