By Larry Neumeister, Associated Press
(AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) must “act promptly” when formally asked to take another look at laws that consider marijuana as dangerous as heroin or LSD.
In a ruling that came Thursday in a 2-to-1 vote by judges from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges agreed that the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the DEA and other parts of the federal government needed to formally ask the DEA 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 PTSD — now have an opening to persuade federal authorities to change how they classify marijuana.
“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 noted that the plaintiffs claimed that marijuana has extended their lives, cured seizures and made pain manageable.
“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,” he said.
In a statement, the Cannabis Cultural Association called the ruling great news.
“This is the first decision of its kind and will afford the plaintiffs the rapid decision that they and all Americans deserve,” said Nelson Guerrero, the association’s president.
AP Photo/Richard Vogel