A three-year-old petition to federally legalise cannabis has reached its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A petition for cannabis legalisation has been filed to the U.S. Supreme Court. If reviewed, the petition will aim to de-schedule cannabis as a schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
After three-years of filing, the Supreme Court is the final legal avenue for review after facing dismissal from the lower courts.
Led by U.S. Attorney General William Barr, it is the hope that this final plea will lead to de-constitutionalise the criminalisation of cannabis. However, it is uncertain if the Supreme Court will accept the case.
The petition, originally introduced into the courts in 2017, was filed on the behalf of five plaintiffs, three of which require medicinal marijuana treatment.
The plaintiffs include an Iraq war veteran and a 14-year-old epileptic girl whose family had to move from Texas to Colorado for her epilepsy treatment.
The petition argues that cannabis federal laws create problems for those who require medicinal cannabis, especially those who require a daily dosage, as is the case for some of the plaintiffs. As it stands, patients face trouble travelling by air and crossing region borders.
The plaintiffs lawyers also argue that in some cases, patients have been denied "fundamental" rights under equal protection law.
This also brings into question the validity of the current scheduling of cannabis as a schedule 1 drug. Under the current CSA scheduling, cannabis has no medicinal benefit and has more potential for harm than heroin and opioids.
The plaintiffs lawyers argue that the current federal laws are almost redundant. Medicinal cannabis is legal in 33 states, while cannabis legalisation is upheld in 11 states.
This begs the question: if almost 70% of the U.S. population are already allowed to reap the medicinal rewards of cannabis, then why is the nation still at the mercy of a 50-year-old scheduling?
The CSA was brought into Constitution at the height of the War on Drugs. Yet, while a majority of U.S. can legally practice their rights to use medicinal cannabis, there is a portion of country that lucks out based on where they choose to live.
However, the petition seems to still be at the mercy of judicial red tape. When the petition was denied by the District Courts in 2018, it was because the plaintiffs "failed to exhaust their administrative remedies" by failing to file with the federal U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
This does not remit the medicinal benefits of cannabis. However, it means that despite the approval rates and its ability to help those in need, the universal obstacles of the judicial system cannot budge. Not even for cannabis legalisation.
The U.S. Supreme Court receives thousands of applications for case review every year, most of which are dismissed. If the Supreme Court refuses to review the current petition, then the decision made from the lower courts will remain standing.
Unfortunately, whether or not the Supreme Court will decide to review the case remains unclear.
However, several initiatives have already made the their way onto state election ballots for the upcoming general election. This is a good sign that cannabis legalisation is moving in the right direction.
The outcome of the November election will likely be an indicator of where the cannabis industry is heading. It's a waiting game until then.
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