A lawsuit challenging marijuana’s federal classification as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act remains alive after a federal appeals court denied the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s request to dismiss the suit.
The lawsuit, filed in May by a group of scientists and veterans, is part of an effort to claim that such a designation is unconstitutional based on marijuana’s possible medical use.
The cases, if plaintiffs prevail, could have enormous implications on the legalization of marijuana federally, perhaps compelling the DEA to reschedule the plant.
But the conventional wisdom is that it’s more likely that the U.S. Congress eventually will either reschedule or deschedule marijuana.
The one-page order from 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco called for parties to submit briefs later this fall.
Separately, congressional lawmakers have been pushing for months for the DEA to issue additional marijuana cultivation licenses for research purposes.
The DEA has said it needs time to implement proper policies for the research program.
A 2018 U.S. Department of Justice legal memo suggests the research program failed to expand because the DOJ believes previous program rules might have violated international drug laws.
The DOJ counsel concluded that the DEA should physically possess and control the distribution of marijuana, since it’s federally illegal.
Instead, marijuana has been shipped directly to researchers from a cultivation center at the University of Mississippi, the DEA’s sole licensed grower.