July 24, 2019 6:57 am

If the DEA Does Not Quickly Reexamine Marijuana’s Classification Under the Controlled Substance Act, the Second Circuit Might

“Plaintiffs claim that marijuana has extended their lives, cured seizures and made pain manageable. If true, these are no small things.” So wrote Judge Calabresi on behalf of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Second Circuit) in Washington, et al. v. Barr, et al.

In Washington, a coalition of plaintiffs launched a broad attack on marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The plaintiffs include the parents of infants Alexis Bortell and Jagger Cotte. According to the plaintiffs’ allegations, Alexis Bortell suffers from chronic, intractable seizures, and Jagger Cotte suffers from Leigh’s disease, a progressive neurometabolic disorder characterized by necrotizing (dead or dying tissue) lesions on the brain. After exhausting traditional treatment options, the children found relief with medical marijuana.

The plaintiffs also include Jose Belen, an Iraq war veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He pursued conventional therapies without success and then tried medical marijuana, which allows him to manage his symptoms, including suicidal ideations. However, because marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under the CSA, Mr. Belen cannot take full advantage of his veteran’s benefits, and the children cannot take their medicine onto federal land nor into states where marijuana is illegal.

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