Just hours after hearing the first oral arguments in an appellate case that could well reclassify marijuana as a drug with valid medicinal properties, the judges requested a supplemental brief.
Los Angeles marijuana lawyers see this as an encouraging sign that the justices are taking this seriously, and not simply going through the motions to approve the federal government’s stance on the matter.
As of right now, marijuana is a Schedule I substance. What this means is that it is considered to have no legitimate, redeeming medical qualities, and for the purposes of federal enforcement, is considered to be one of the most dangerous drugs available. Despite the fact that numerous states, California being the first, have approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the federal government not only refuses to budge on this issue, they continue to clamp down on peaceful patients and law-abiding dispensaries providing a valuable service.
This case, as we’ve previously written, stems from a complaint by a U.S. Air Force Veteran who was denied Veteran’s Affairs disability benefits because of his use of medical marijuana for chronic pain. Without access to medical marijuana, his attorneys are arguing that he risks destabilization of his entire health condition.
Reclassifying marijuana as a drug with valid medicinal purposes would have the added effect of crippling the federal government’s current efforts to criminally prosecute patients and dispensaries for use, cultivation and sale.
The supplemental brief ordered by the court requests that the plaintiff provide the court with more details about how the veteran was harmed as a result of the government’s refusal to recognize the medicinal properties and value of marijuana. Plaintiff attorneys had argued during the first day that the denial of treatment and health benefits from the VA due to his marijuana use has contributed to a decline in health.
The court as asked the Americans for Safe Access, who are representing the plaintiff, to “clarify and amplify” the assertions made by the veteran, and also to fully explain exactly the nature of the injury that allows him to bring the claim. They will be allowed a maximum of five days to produce this.
Millions of Americans rely on medical marijuana for a wide range of ailments. They obtain the drug through dispensaries that only provide it to those who have been given a prescription from a medical doctor.
Physicians in Colorado recently appealed to voters who will soon decide whether to entirely decriminalize use of the drug, saying that not only are there clear medical values, but there is an inherent harm that occurs by prosecuting non-violent marijuana users.
Previously efforts to defend dispensaries and patients prosecuted in criminal court have been stymied by the blocking of information regarding the medicinal value of the drug. This decision could change all that.
It comes at a critical time, particularly for dispensaries and patients in California, who have endured a barrage of assaults by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice, seeking to shut down lawful dispensaries, in spite of President Barack Obama’s promises not to make these facilities a priority.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Americans for Safe Access, et al., v. Drug Enforcement Administration, Supplemental Briefing Order, Oct. 16, 2012, U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
More Blog Entries:
Montana Medical Marijuana Verdict May Influence California Cases, Oct. 17, 2012, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog