NEW YORK JUDGE FINDS CANNABIS IS MEDICINE - FINALLY
FAMOUS JUDGE - Alvin Hellerstein agrees that marijuana is medicine
A hearing of cannabis users who go to court against the Feds. They're seeking a ruling that cannabis is recognized as valuable medicine and that it be removed from Schedule I (narcotic)status.
Manhattan Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein heard arguments for a 2017 lawsuit where several medical marijuana users sued the federal government. Under federal law, cannabis is classified as a dangerous narcotic or a Schedule I drug dangerous which prohibits medical doctors from prescribing medical cannabis.
Meanwhile, 30 state lawmakers have greenlighted cannabis medical use, however, users and vendors still can and do get charged under federal law.
The lawsuit also considered that in 2014 the Justice and the Treasury Departmens issued guidance on how banks might provide services to cannabis businesses that are legal under state law.
"On the one hand the federal government wants to put people in jail, while at the same time the federal government currently has a policy to encourage banks to go into business with cannabis companies, They're attempting to reserve the right to prosecute people for engaging in the very conduct that the federal government has encouraged." - Hiller
THE TENTATIVE VERDICT
Judge Hellerstein said that cannabis does not meet the criteria to be a Schedule 1 drug, because it does have medical uses. and pointed out that prescription drugs that have caused the “opioid scourge,” as he called it, are classified as Schedule II—in other words, considered less dangerous than cannabis.
We recognize that there are medical issues that can be treated with medical marijuana, such as pain The judge discussed many aspects of the Feds scheduling classifications, and mentioned that sales and distribution of cannabis could still be considered criminal if it were classified as Schedule V, so there was no reason whatsoever for a Schedule I classification.
"The Feds tactics are to invite the plaintiffs to challenge to the law in a way that allows them to drag the enemy into a war of attrition, where the Fed has unlimited public resources to pour into stall tactics against an under financed enemy. .In this case, astute plaintiffs saw through the plot, estimating that would take 10 years to challenge the DEA." - Johnny Rodriguez
Though Hellerstein seemed sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ cause today, he also expressed reservations about the lawsuit’s legal grounds. It’s not clear, if his court has the power to rule on the place of cannabis on the Fed Drug Schedule. Hellerstein will issue a decision at a later date.
“When basic human life is at stake, what would happen if there is no response from an agency?” - Judge
Such decisions do not come.” - Government attorney
No matter how Judge Hellerstein rules on today’s motion, plaintiffs vow to continue their legal fight including appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and U.S. Supreme Court.
Army veteran Jose Belen claims that the horrors of the Iraq War left him with PTSD. Jose says that the only thing that really helped him cope with the flashbacks, the nightmares, and uneasy feelings that haunted is life. However, due to federal laws that still classify cannabis as a narcotic without medical use, his Veterans Affairs doctor could not legally prescribe cannabis.
"How can you say there is no currently accepted medical use?' our argument does not hold." - Judge
“Once I did use cannabis, immediately I felt the relief,” - Belen
Mr. Belen is working with other medical cannabis patients to mount a court challenge to federal laws criminalizing the herbal medicament. The 35-year-old former defender of the US and father of two is one of five plaintiffs in a lawsuit claiming that the government’s decision to continue to classify marijuana is dangerous is irrational, unconstitutional and is motivated by politics, not hard science. Belen and his et.al plaintiffs are demanding to have the Schedule I classification of cannabis removed from the books once and for all.
"In the courts, where it comes to the Feds and marijuana, there is no rule of law, there is no constitution, there is no science. None whatsoever. I'm not being dramatic in saying that the Feds diatribe and a legal process that rivals those in charge of the Salem Witch Trials. At least the wacko Salem Witch judges were sincere in their beliefs, whereas the Feds seldom believe a word that comes out of their own mouths." - Johnny Rodriguez
Plaintiff's testimony about the life saving efficacy of medical cannabis includes:
Alexis Bortell, a 12-year-old girl with epilepsy whose seizures ceased when she started a "whole-plant Cannabis" regimen, court papers state.
Jagger Cotte, a 7 year-old with Leigh's Disease that typically kills victims by the age of 4. THC-concentrated medical marijuana has stopped his screaming in pain, has been able to interact with his parents, and has prolonged his life by more than two years.
Marvin Washington, former NFL player is the co-founder of a company that markets hemp-based performance sports products.
Cannabis Cultural Association, A nonprofit organization that helps minorities benefit from the marijuana industry.
Outside court is Nelson Guerrero and Jose Belen, plaintiffs challenging the U.S. Government's classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug,.
Their lawsuit, filed in July 2017, received its long-anticipated courtroom debut earlier today in New York City. So many supporters, spectators, and media members showed up that U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein courtroom was packed to capacity. The crowd nearly filled two overflow rooms as well.
"In a court with any integrity you win the case, open and shut, in a minute. First, the Feds have a patent for the medical use of marijuana. Case won. Under the constitution, marijuana is not in within the wheelhouse of the Feds, it is a state matter. Third, the FDA was approved synthetic THC as a medicine. So it's like saying that synthetic chocolate is good for you, but natural chocolate is bad like heroin. They have no case."- Johnny Rodriguez
Under review in February was the federal government’s pre-trial motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Assistant US Attorney Samuel Dolinger spoke for the Feds. Dolinger stated that the case should be dismissed, and cited precedents where judges previously upheld the constitutionality of the existing cannabis laws. It's like saying I lied yesterday, so it is OK to lie today.
The legal approach while completely flawed for the science always marches along with new findings that related to marijuana's medical efficacy and safety. The Feds blow off the facts, that the overwhelming consensus of the top organic chemists, pharmacologists and medical doctors do not classify marijuana with heroin, nor do the local police, nor does the American public.
Dying patients don't time for the DEA;s horseplay, where they have the strategy to drag the thing through the courts for 10 years, spending the public's money in the millions, to block millions of Americans from their cannabis meds.
The federal government argued that the plaintiffs have not petitioned the Drug Enforcement Agency to reclassify marijuana, but then again, under the constitution it is not part of their detail. Dolinger said,this would be the proper channel, rather than using a federal lawsuit to force a change.
“Any person can submit a petition to the DEA.” Dolinger
Ya, right. Plaintiff lawyers said that it was true that they could petition the DEA, but that was more or a useless tactic, due to the fact that the administrative process would take a decade. That is just another way to block due process. Just another violation of any spirit of the law, or justice.
Dollinger spewed out the same old diatribe about the potential abuse of cannabis by minors as a public safety issue, however, the findings are that in marijuana legal states, the use of cannabis by minors has gone down. Also, alcohol and hard drug related deaths and crimes go down in cannabis legal states. Meanwhile, the real issue, legal and illegal opiate abuse has reached absolutely epidemic proportions.
Dollinger quoted a Congressional act passed in 1970 that opposed the cannabis use to “protect the health and welfare” of the people, and another 1998 measure that acted out of concern for “public safety.” And that same group published reports that cigarettes were good for you around 1970, and a decade or so Jeff Sessions went to bat for the cigarette industry in court against cancer victims who sued, claiming they were misled into believing that cigarette smoking was safe.
“How can you say that? You say ‘There is no currently accepted medical use in the United States, Your argument doesn’t hold.” - Hellerstein
“Have there been any studies?” - ” Hellerstein
That elicited a collective laugh from the gallery, which was packed with medical cannabis supporters, for the medical properties, cannabis might me the most studied plant and or drug of all time - with thousands of papers registered on PubMed, the world's largest medical document source.
“Mr. Dolinger,your argument is not getting anywhere.” - Judge
The courtroom gallery broke out in hysterical laughter throughout the procedures in reaction to Hellerstein cutting remarks.
In a final statement, Holland stated that the Feds has no process for expedited review of the Schedule I classification of cannabis in the case of life-threatening situations. Previous challenges to the scheduling of cannabis took many years. He explained that advocacy groups like Patients out of Time were created because children like Bortell will die without access to medical marijuana and these kids effectively became medical refugees as they were forced to move to a state where medical cannabis was legal.
ABOUT THE JUDGE
OTHER QUOTES FROM THE PROCEEDINGS
The administrative review and petition process is too lengthy in life-threatening situations.
“You can’t argue there is no medical uses. How can you say that?”- Judge
“It’s saved a life, she has no more epileptic seizures. If there is an accepted medical use your argument doesn’t hold.” - Judge
“Irregardless of the ruling, in my eyes, we won today, the sheer fact that we were given the attention we received, it was a win. We are now one step closer to hope and victory.”
“This is a dry run for what will come next, we are not going to stop.”- Belen
“It could be recognized to have some medical use”-, Dolinger .
"Your clients are living proof of the medical effectiveness of marijuana.” - Judge
“How could anyone say your clients’ lives have not been saved by marijuana?" - Hellerstein
"N.Y. lawmakers want to fight opioid crisis with medical marijuana, I couldn’t agree more, your honor.” - Hiller
“How can you say that? ... ‘There is no currently accepted medical use in the United States,’ Your argument doesn’t hold.” - Judge
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FURTHER READING - THE CASE FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA AGAINST THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
"On the one hand the federal government wants to put people in jail, while at the same time the federal government currently has a policy to encourage banks to go into business with cannabis companies, They're attempting to reserve the right to prosecute people for engaging in the very conduct that the federal government has encouraged."
The suit presents a case for legalization not only through a host of constitutional arguments, but also by way of a world-historical tour of marijuana use, from ten thousand years ago in the production of Taiwanese pottery to the smoking habits of President Barack Obama. It points out that the ancient Egyptians used medical cannabis to treat eye sores and hemorrhoids, Thomas Jefferson puffed it for migraines and James Madison credited “sweet hemp” for giving him the insight to create a new and democratic nation....
The suit also includes documents quoting John Ehrlichman, an adviser to President Richard Nixon, saying that the early efforts to criminalize pot were a way to disrupt the hippies and the black community. The contention is bolstered by an affidavit from Roger Stone., a pro-pot Nixon-era operative and adviser to Trump.