Judges: Feds must act if asked to take a fresh look at pot
May 31, 2019
"If true, these are no small things. Plaintiffs should not be required to live indefinitely with uncertainty about their access to allegedly life-saving medication or live in fear that pursuing such medical treatment may subject them or their loved ones to devastating consequences." Judge Guido Calabresi.
NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that the Drug Enforcement Administration must "act promptly" if formally asked to take another look at laws that consider marijuana as dangerous as heroin or LSD.
The ruling came Thursday in a 2-to-1 vote by judges from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who agreed that the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the DEA and other parts of the federal government needed to ask the agency to change its designations for marijuana before bringing the issue to the courts.
The plaintiffs — which include the Cannabis Cultural Association and an Iraq war veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder — now have an opening to persuade federal authorities to change how they classify marijuana. Many states have legalized recreational pot use, but marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
"It is possible that the current law, though rational once, is now heading towards irrationality; it may even conceivably be that it has gotten there already," wrote Judge Guido Calabresi.
"A sensible response to our evolving understanding about the effects of marijuana might require creating new policies just as much as changing old ones," Calabresi added in a majority opinion that included the conclusions of Judge Jed S. Rakoff, a district judge sitting on the Manhattan appeals court temporarily.
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Veterans and their advocates say cannabis can help with PTSD and other ailments, but so far Veterans Affairs is slow to conduct tests.