National cannabis legalization lawsuit thrown out by judge

A lawsuit against the federal government on which several cannabis legalization advocates had pinned their hopes has officially lost.

At least its first legal battle, anyway.

Judge Alvin Hellerstein, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, ruled Tuesday that the plaintiffs had “failed to exhaust their administrative remedies” and granted a motion by the U.S. Justice Department to dismiss the case.

The suit argued that the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 is unconstitutional and asked that marijuana be removed from the schedule of controlled narcotics.

A victory would have effectively legalized marijuana on a national level by “de-scheduling” the plant.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs – a group ranging from a retired NFL player to a young epileptic girl – promised to appeal the ruling.

They also said they “remain confident” the suit will ultimately result in the removal of marijuana from the list of controlled substances.

In his ruling, Hellerstein wrote:

“Although plaintiffs couch their claim in constitutional language, they seek the same relief as would be available in an administrative forum – a change in marijuana’s scheduling classification – based on the same factors that guide the (Drug Enforcement Administration’s) reclassification determination.”

However, the judge emphasized that his ruling should not be taken as a defense of cannabis being a Schedule I narcotic and noted that medical marijuana has “quite literally” saved the lives of at least two of the plaintiffs.

“This decision should not be understood as a factual finding that marijuana lacks any medical use … the authority to make that determination is vested in the administrative process,” he wrote.

Hellerstein also rejected the lawsuit’s claim that the plaintiffs had a constitutional right to use medical cannabis.

“No such fundamental right exists,” he wrote.

“Every court to consider the specific, carefully framed right at issue here has held that there is no substantive due process right to use medical marijuana.”

24 comments on “National cannabis legalization lawsuit thrown out by judge
  1. Lawrence Goodwin on

    Your honor, that very problem has needed a legal remedy for the better part of 50 years: what you call “the authority to make that determination” still happens to be “vested” in the heartless, unelected bureaucrats of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

    Close to 30 years ago (September 1988), the DEA inexplicably ignored its own judge on this exact same issue. After holding public hearings and considering ample numbers of documents, DEA Judge Francis Young used strong words to denounce the obvious obstruction by this ruthless federal agency: “It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for the DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record,” he said. Young added that “marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known” to women and men in America.

    Young recommended the prompt re-scheduling of “marihuana” to Schedule II, which would’ve broken wide open the scientific research that thousands of people since have publicly stated is necessary. You completely failed to consider, Judge Hellerstein, how Young’s extremely relevant arguments were ignored. Forget about “due process.” That was bureaucratic treason.

    Also, sir, “no such fundamental right exists” for federal, state and local agents to keep hunting down and arresting Americans who grow (or somehow derive profit from) cannabis plants. Astronomical amounts of national wealth have been squandered in that truly unconstitutional campaign, whose only ruthless aim is to smother annual cannabis markets worth tens of billions.

    Cannabis plants have supplied medicine and commerce for centuries—regardless of this setback, there’s not a damned thing the feds can do to stop We the People from defeating their “marihuana” tyranny and making cannabis great again.

    Reply
    • DRESS WEDDING on

      And there was another effort by Americans for Safe Access that ended with a Oct 6, 2012 hearing in Circuit Court in DC, where a 3-judge panel declined to overturn the DEA’s stance, despite being presented with numerous research pieces from Israel, South Africa, and England. And since when does “the right to the pursuit of happiness” not include consuming an herb that alleviates pain, helps with myriad other conditions and symptoms, and for many, provides euphoria.

      Reply
    • John on

      Very well put! Another bureaucrat that’s going to pass the buck on to the next. This is really starting to get very old in my opinion. We need true leaders that will stepup and recognize the facts and respond in the right way that will benefit those that they were elected to serve!

      Reply
  2. Deaconknowgood on

    Even though there positive comments on Judge Hellerstein, pre-trial, I was disappointed in the plaintiff’s pseudo-rights complaint. I mean, Cm’on, guys. I know that’s not all you walked into court with.

    Reply
  3. Francios on

    “The authority to make that determination is vested in the administrative process,” he wrote. How convenient. Hand it back to the DEA. As if they will ever give up this cash cow.

    Reply
  4. Christopher Simmons on

    I knew this would happen. Big Pharma, Tobacco, and Big Alcohol got to him either financially or pulled up done political “dirt” on him. There is no justice in this country. Big money interests rule the court system, financial systems, and health system

    Reply
    • Kelley Mottola on

      Christopher you said it, it’s all about money and has nothing to do with saving people or helping people have a better quality of life. Such a shame that our country cares more about money than it does lives. I have a mother dying of cancer that is doing 90% better since taking CBD and THC oils, but no one that can research it or help her, can because of the Federal Law. This is certainly not the America I was raised in and if something doesn’t change soon, we will be just like all the other 3rd world countries. We certainly are no longer by the people or for the people.

      Reply
  5. Christopher Simmons on

    I am done with American Cannabis Stocks. I’m investing in Canadian, Australian, Israeli, and Latin American Cannabis companies.
    Politicians and government are in bed with big Pharma, Tobacco, and Alcohol in the U.S. This is the most CORRUPT government on planet earth.

    Reply
  6. greg mcarthur on

    so there have not been any Judgment calls about the factles lie perpetuated by the DEA. Be a judge and make a Judgment call. Nothing to support it ‘s existence ? Law based on lie is no law at all. Make the DEA prove it’s relevance . I know it may be unprecedented .
    “After reviewing the facts for myself , even though your argument iz presented differently. In my judgement as a Judge … it should have never existed ……So It Doesn’t “. Too simple , I know . We need the pen that writes in zero gravity . No way can a pencil could work.

    Reply
  7. Paul Sorensen on

    Thomas Jefferson thought we all possessed ‘natural rights’. We should be able to do whatever we want, as long as it doesn’t infringe on someone else’s rights. Clearly cannabis is covered under his description.
    And clearly the DEA enforces the schedule one status of pot based on no scientific
    evidence. For decades they prevented such studies. Apparently, they think ‘Reefer Madness’ is a documentary.

    Reply
  8. Jeff on

    This is another judge disregarding the ninth and tenth amendment. Before judges started ignoring these amendments, the people that wanted to ban alcohol had to go through the amendment process. The fact that some people call these rights “pseudo” is sad proof of the educational system that disregards teaching the constitution.

    Reply
  9. Clifton Middleton on

    Institutionalized racism is rooted in the ‘administrative process’, another phrase for fascism. The pot laws are racist inspired abominations from the beginning but the refusal of the judicial system to consider the facts is the same as the Dread Scott case. We will remove all of these blood riders at the ballot box.

    Reply
  10. Curmudgeon on

    What we need is a bigger government with more un-elected bureaucrats to meddle in our lives. Just think of all the wonders they, like the DEA can unleash upon the public. I know I am going to always vote for the candidate that wants bigger and bigger government, and you should too!

    Reply
  11. Ronald Chamberlain on

    THE TIME FOR POLITE CONVERSATION IS OVER! This judge is a f##king sychophant for the pharmaceutical industry, which knows that cannabis is a general cure all for most diseases because THC AND CBD’S ENHANCES THE IMMUNE SYSTEM WHICH ATTACKS CANCER TUMORS AND MANY OTHER PROBLEMSWITH OUR NERVOUS SYSTEMS. BIG PHARMA DOES NOT WANT CANNABIS TO COMPETE WITH THEIR OWN TOXIC DRUGS. TO OBEY JEFF SESSIONS IS SELLING OUT THE 99% OF AMERICANS WHO NEED CANNABIS TO LEAD A HEALTHY LIFE. THIS IS CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR ON THE PART OF THE GOVERNMENT TO DENY THIS MIRACULOUS HERB TO THOSE IN NEED. MAY THIS JUDGE GO TO HELL. THE D.E.A. SHOULD BE CHARGED WITH THE RICO ACT AND BE COMPLETELY DECOMMISSIONED. THEN ALL MARIJUANA CONVICTIONS EXPUNED BOTH FEDERAL AND STATE CHARGES, AND ALL THESE VICTIMS MUST BE COMPENSATED FOR THEIR LIVES BEING RUINED UNDER THE RULES OF THE 5TH. AMENDMENT.

    Reply
  12. Kate on

    If the judge is looking for medical facts to support their findings for helping these people, all they have to do is go the the US patent for cannabis (ironic) and all the research has been done to support it’s medical benefits. Not to speak of the fact that the US has been giving out marijuana to 14 people since 1976, so what a contradiction and prejudicial injustice to select only a few people in the U.S. to get marijuana legally and everyone else it’s considered a crime. Go get ’em!

    Reply
  13. Bill on

    I just can’t imagine the amounts of money that must exist in politics that makes humans compromise their morals, integrity and values.
    God help us…

    Reply
  14. Rick on

    Since this suit was tossed for the simple reason that the plaintiffs hadn’t asked the DEA to reschedule marijuana before the suit, the judge tossed it, knowing full well that it would be appealed and would give the plaintiffs a chance to request a schedule change from the DEA.

    The DEA will of course turn them down and then the lawsuit will proceed. And let’s hope the DEA loses, like we all know they should.

    Reply
  15. willy on

    when are they going to make the dea show the research that made them decide to make it schedule I in the first place… don’t they have to make that determination based on facts? where are those facts?

    Reply
  16. Chris Painter on

    280E generates too much money for the federal gov’t, which is why bank accounts will be coming through sooner than later I imagine. They aren’t stupid, they’ll just take all of the profits from the industry via taxation.

    Reply
  17. al simon on

    Maybe its time to inundate the entire court system with lawsuits. it is a no brainer that courts and individual judges have been making rulings based on “Alice In Wonderland” reasoning and not on the facts. Not only must this ruling be appealed up to the Supreme Court, every ruling that finds somone guilty of a marijuana offense civil, state or federal should be appealed all the way up to the Supreme court to the point that all the courts are swamped with marijuana appeals. Somewhere there has to be a judge that hasn’t been bought that has the courage to make the right decision.

    It is so hard to believe that our system has become so corrupt that the people that we elect to represent us no longer give a damn, that they swear an oath to preserve and protect our country and our Constitution and Democracy and what it stands for “Justice and Truth and Fairness” . Instead they want to be reelected at all cost for power and money, screw the people.

    It’s time to think of the French Bastille Day July 14th.

    Reply

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