Three states, one district, and two cities will vote on various aspects of the nation’s drug laws on Tuesday but the most crucial marijuana decision being weighed in the coming days will be made by just one person. U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller could be about to start a legal revolution.
After a five-day hearing in California, she is considering the validity of the science surrounding pot’s classification as one of the most dangerous drugs in the world.
In May, she became the first judge in decades to agree to hear evidence relating to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s classification of marijuana which puts it in the same category as heroin and meth. Over the next few weeks, Mueller will comb through hundreds of pages of witness testimony, scientific research, and public health policy to determine whether the Schedule-1 Substance classification of marijuana is unconstitutional.
Her ruling will only apply in the specific case she is hearing, but some argue that a first judicial ruling against the legality of the DEA’s current drug classifications would invite a flood of similar legal challenges all over the country.
The case in question concerns six men who were charged with growing marijuana on national forest land. It dates back to three police raids in the Northern California town of Hayfork on October 3, 2011 conducted by two local narcotic task forces in tandem with the United State Forest Service (USFS) and California Highway Patrol (CHP). They confirmed what the agents had been suspecting for years: there was a massive grow operation hidden in the depths of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
Over the course of several days, police arrested 15 suspects and uncovered more than 500 marijuana plants, 1,000 pounds of processed cannabis, eight firearms, and more than $35,000 in cash. Brian Pickard and Bryan Schweder, the two owners of the land, were pinpointed as the leaders of the operation, according to witness testimony and law enforcement officers.
Facing a variety of drug charges ranging from possession of marijuana to cultivation, the men face upwards of 10-15 years in prison. Nothing especially unusual thus far, but then the defense counsel argued that such tough legal sanctions should never have applied to marijuana in the first place.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Mueller agreed to grant an evidentiary hearing on marijuana’s classification.
Her decision was based on a tiny footnote written by U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Stevens in 2005. In the medical marijuana case of Gonzalez v. Raich, he wrote:
“We acknowledge that evidence proffered by respondents in this case regarding the effective medical uses for marijuana, if found credible after trial, would cast serious doubt on the accuracy of the findings that require marijuana to be listed in Schedule I,”
“Respondents’ submission, if accepted, would place all homegrown medical substances beyond the reach of Congress’ regulatory jurisdiction.”
Do you think it should be labeled a schedule-1 substance? Leave a comment above.
Author: Abby Haglage
Source: The Daily Beast