Jump to content

Judge: Congress, Dea Determine If Marijuana Should Be Classified As Dangerous Drug, Not Court


Recommended Posts

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A federal judge in Grand Rapids has rejected claims that marijuana is wrongly classified as a dangerous drug.

The judge also ruled that federal policy relaxing enforcement of marijuana laws in states that permit recreational or medicinal use does not amount to selective prosecution based on residency.

Shawn Taylor, the alleged leader of a grow operation spanning four counties, and others challenged indictments by arguing that marijuana has medical value and is not dangerous.

15830519-large.jpgShawn TaylorFile photo

They contended that marijuana should not be classified as a Schedule 1 drug, like heroin and LSD, under the Controlled Substances Act.

As part of his 15-page opinion rejecting defense requests to dismiss charges, U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker provided a historical look at marijuana in the U.S. and the country’s growing acceptance, but noted that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Congress have not acted to reclassify the drug.

The recreational use of marijuana is legal under state law in Colorado and Washington, while 23 states, including Michigan, and the District of Columbia, allow medical marijuana.

“Public perception of marijuana is changing,” Jonker wrote.

“And available experts may be ready to testify in support of some medically safe and valuable use for the drug today. But there was and is plenty of objective medical information (both from the 1970s and today) to provide a rational basis for Congress to place marijuana on Schedule 1 of the CSA, and to leave future changes in scheduling to the DEA,” Jonker wrote.

15830496-large.jpgU.S. District Judge Robert JonkerFile photo

“The most defendants can show is that there is not a complete consensus in the scientific community on this issue. But that puts the issue squarely in the hands of Congress and the DEA, not the courts,” he said.

Jonker said that marijuana and other drugs, like cocaine, have been in the country before its founding, regularly prescribed by “both legitimate and not so legitimate” physicians for a variety of ailments. But public perception changed with Congress enacting the first federal drug legislation in 1906. States began banning sale and possession.

Congress in 1937 passed the Marijuana Tax Act which imposed taxes on the drug whenever it changed hands.

“Such was the status quo on the federal level, mostly leaving the American public to ‘frolic in the autumn mist,’ until 1970 and the advent on the ‘War on Drugs,’” Jonker wrote, referencing lyrics from Peter, Paul and Mary's "Puff, the Magic Dragon."

The Controlled Substances Act established five schedules for drugs. For inclusion on Schedule 1, Congress or the DEA must find the drug has high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in the U.S, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision.

“Since passage of the CSA, the DEA has been petitioned to reclassify marijuana but has declined to do so,” Jonker wrote.

“Congress has weighed in on several occasions, rejecting any medical use of marijuana. … In short, both Congress and the DEA have repeatedly reaffirmed the original decision of Congress to treat marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. Congress is currently entertaining proposals to modify the Controlled Substances Act, but unless and until Congress or the DEA acts, the possession and sale of marijuana remains a federal crime throughout the United States.”

The judge also determined that the defendants were not victims of selective prosecution. The defense says the Department of Justice has a policy “to forego prosecution of those distributing cannabis in states where it has been made legal for medical and/or recreational use … .”

The judge said the defense “over read” the policy statements, and that there is “no hard and fast set of rules, as defendants suggest.”

If they had, it “would not automatically establish and unconstitutional selective prosecution.”

In all, 37 were arrested in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Oceana counties and Traverse City. The judge noted that the government contends the defendants did not comply with state or federal law.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...