Marijuana advocates are taking their cause for legalization all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, they announced today.
The group Americans for Safe Access said it would challenge a U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit decision turning down its argument that marijuana should be downgraded from a federal "schedule I" outlaw drug:
ASA said it filed a "petition for writ of certiorari," essentially an appeal, with the U.S. Supreme Court today that could prod the high court to consider whether marijuana is indeed among the nation's most dangerous, most unusable drugs.
The court does not have to consider the case. If it doesn't, the lower court's ruling would stand.
Schedule 1 is reserved for those hardcore substances like heroin that have no business in a doctor's office. Even cocaine, which has some medical uses despite its tough street punishments, is not a schedule 1 drug.
A downgrade of marijuana would quasi-legalize it on a federal level, essentially, opening it up to limited medical uses.
ASA argues that studies show that pot has legit medical uses. The ASA has cited more than 200 studies on the efficacy of medical marijuana. The group's chief counsel, Joe Elford, says:
To deny that sufficient evidence is lacking on the medical efficacy of marijuana is to ignore a mountain of well-documented studies that conclude otherwise. The Court has unreasonably raised the bar for what qualifies as an 'adequate and well-controlled' study, thereby continuing the government's game of 'Gotcha.'
ASA notes that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that a lack of FDA marketing approval -- cited by the D.C. court -- is not reason alone to deny a downgrade of a drug's scheduling.
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In December a poll found that 83 percent of Americans believe doctors should be able to prescribe marijuana if they think it's right for a patient.
It's long past time for the federal government to change our country's harmful policy on medical marijuana, and if it must be compelled to do so by the courts then so be it.