Medical Marijuana From Sea to Shining Sea? A Lawsuit Wants to Force Feds to Say Yes to Pot

Marijuana advocates filed a suit in a U.S. Circuit Court today to force the Obama administration to answer a petition that seeks to have the federal government recognize cannabis as a drug with acceptable medical uses.

The suit wants the court to order the administration to answer the original request within 60 days. This after nine years of stalling on the matter, according to California NORML, which is party to Monday's suit.

If the coalition of pro-pot organizations is successful, marijuana would be taken out of the federal Schedule I category -- the group of outlaw drugs with no legitimate uses, to which cocaine doesn't even belong -- and, presumably, made available as a medicine from coast-to-cost. Wishful thinking?

According to a statement, the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis says the administration (first Bush's, now Obama's) never responded to its 2002 petition to reschedule marijuana, "despite a formal recommendation in 2006 from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the final arbiter in the rescheduling process."

The case has been going on so long that one of the patients named as a plaintiff has died, according to the coalition.

Medical Marijuana From Sea to Shining Sea? A Lawsuit Wants to Force Feds to Say Yes to Pot

Joe Elford, lead counsel on the writ and Americans for Safe Access' top attorney, says:

The federal government's strategy has been delay, delay, delay. It is far past time for the government to answer our rescheduling petition, but unfortunately we've been forced to go to court in order to get resolution.

Monday's filing accuses the government of "unreasonable delay."

" ... Ample evidence of its [pot's] therapeutic value exists based on scientific studies in the US and around the world," states the coalition.

It also notes that synthetic THC has already been classified as Schedule III.

California NORML director Dale Gieringer:

It is unacceptable for seriously ill Americans to wait a decade for their government to even respond to their petition for legal access to medicine to relieve their pain and suffering. The government's unreasonable delay seriously impugns its competence to oversee Americans' health care. The administration should act promptly to address its obsolete and bankrupt policy in accordance with President Obama's pledge to put science above politics.



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