Pubdate: Sun, 30 Sep 2012
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Times-Standard
Author: Dave Stancliff


A rare opportunity for medical marijuana patients is coming on Oct. 16
at 9:30 a.m. in the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Science will be pitted against politically motivated decisions for the
first time. It's a match-up the feds have avoided for years.

Ten years after the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) filed
its petition, the courts will finally review the scientific evidence
regarding the therapeutic value of marijuana.

The D.C. Circuit Court agreed to hear oral arguments in Americans for
Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration.

"Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court,"
said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access, the
country's leading medical marijuana advocacy group.

"What's at stake in this case is nothing less than our country's
scientific integrity and the imminent needs of millions of patients,"
Elford said in a press release.

This is a case that could have major implications for taking marijuana
out of Schedule I, a category that also includes heroin and LSD.

Schedule I drugs are described as substances that "have a high
potential for abuse, have no current accepted medical use in the
United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for the use of
the drug or other substance under medical supervision."

Perhaps it was no coincidence that the announcement of oral arguments
comes weeks after a study by Dr. Igor Grant was published in The Open
Neurology Journal. He is one of the leading U.S. medical marijuana
researchers, and claims marijuana's Schedule I classification is "not

For years now, advocates for medical marijuana have submitted reports
and studies showing the medicinal effects of marijuana but have been
unable to crack the feds' wall of blind resistance to them.

Dr. Grant and his associates have concluded it's not true that
marijuana has no medical value, nor that information on safety is
lacking. The study urged additional research, and stated that
marijuana's federal classification and its political controversy are
"obstacles to medical progress in this area."

The Obama Justice Department has been escalating its attacks in
medical marijuana states, with dozens of new federal indictments and
prosecutions. Though U.S. Attorneys often claim the accused have
violated state law in some way, defendants are prevented from using
any medical evidence or a state law defense in federal court.

Hopefully we'll see sanity and logic prevail, and marijuana will be
reclassified, allowing federal defendants to use a medical necessity
defense in future cases.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have adopted medical
marijuana laws that not only recognize the medical efficacy of
marijuana, but also provide safe and legal access to it.

The DEA's aggressive campaign against marijuana has escalated under
the Obama administration and it's more important now than ever for
patients to get their rights back. The trend has to be stopped.

How unreasonable have the feds been? During congressional testimony
earlier this year, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart refused to say
whether crack or heroin posed bigger health risks than marijuana.

Really? I don't know how Leonhart can look in the mirror after
displaying that kind of stubborn ignorance. From day one, making
marijuana illegal was a political ploy, based upon racism and ignorance.

Now there's a chance to reverse decades of a failed policy that should
never have developed. Imagine how much more can be discovered about
the medical properties of marijuana when legitimate research is funded
instead of the bogus fed-funded farces that have been the rule thus

Millions of people will benefit. Millions of dollars can be diverted
from the Lost War on Drugs if marijuana is rescheduled. The door will
be open to legalization, something that 50 percent of Americans want,
according to national polls.

As It Stands, this is a milestone case because it's the first time the
real merits of marijuana will be considered by a federal court that
could change its legal status.
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