Medical marijuana will finally get its day in federal court tomorrow. On Tuesday the United State Court of Appeals for the DC district will hear oral arguments in Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration regarding the scheduling of marijuana.
Marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule I drug, which according to federal law Schedule I substances “have a potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.” Because marijuana is legally considered to have no accepted medical use it can’t be legally prescribed under federal law, even though 17 states have approved the medical use of marijuana.
The government was petitioned to examine the most recent scientific evidence proving cannabis’ medical value and as a result move marijuana to a lower schedule, but the DEA first stonewalled and than finally rejected the petition in 2011. The DEA was then sued for inappropriately rejecting the petition. The court may decide if the DEA did in fact fail to follow its legal requirements on this issue.
The government’s insistence that marijuana has no medical value is not only contradicted by numerous scientific studies but also by the government’s treatment of THC, the main active compound in marijuana. Even though marijuana remains Schedule I, THC is listed as Schedule III and is a widely used medication.