#NORML #News
Source: @norml @WeedConnection
Posted By: norml@weedconnection.com
media :: news
- Tue, 28 Oct 2014 04:20:21 PST

Federal District Court Judge To Hear Testimony Questioning Marijuana's Schedule I Status

Sacramento, CA: Testimony regarding the constitutionality of the federal statute designating marijuana as a Schedule I Controlled Substance will be taken on Monday, October 27 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California in the case of United States v. Pickard, et. al., No.2:11-CR-0449-KJM.

Members of Congress initially categorized cannabis as a Schedule I substance, the most restrictive classification available, in 1970. Under this categorization, the plant is defined as possessing "a high potential for abuse, ... no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, ... [and lacking] accepted safety for ... use ... under medical supervision."

Expert witnesses for the defense - including Drs. Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University in New York City, retired physician Phillip Denny, and Greg Carter, Medical Director of St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington - will testify that the accepted science is inconsistent with the notion that cannabis meets these Schedule I criteria.

"[I]t is my considered opinion that including marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is counter to all the scientific evidence in a society that uses and values empirical evidence," Dr. Hart declared. "After two decades of intense scientific inquiry in this area, it has become apparent the current scheduling of cannabis has no footing in the realities of science and neurobiology."

The government intends to call Bertha Madras, Ph.D., Professor of Psychobiology at Harvard Medical School and the former Deputy Director for Demand Reduction for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George W. Bush.

Additional evidence has been presented by way of declarations by Marine Sgt. Ryan Begin, a veteran of the Iraq War; Jennie Stormes, the mother of a child suffering from Dravet Syndrome - a pediatric form of epilepsy that has been shown in preliminary trials to respond to specific compounds in the cannabis plant; James Nolan, Ph.D. an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at West Virginia University and a former crime analyst for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Christopher Conrad, noted cannabis author, archivist, and cultivation expert.

This is the first time in recent memory that a federal judge has granted an evidentiary hearing on a motion challenging the statute that classifies cannabis as one of the most dangerous illicit substances in the nation. Attorneys Zenia Gilg and Heather Burke, both members of the NORML Legal Committee, contend that the federal government's present policies facilitating the regulated distribution of cannabis in states such as Colorado and Washington can not be reconciled with the insistence that the plant is deserving of its Schedule I status under federal law.

They write: "In effect, the action taken by the Department of Justice is either irrational, or more likely proves the assertions made in Part I (B) of this Brief: marijuana does not fit the criteria of a Schedule I Controlled Substance."

Speaking recently in a taped interview with journalist Katie Couric, United States Attorney General Eric Holder expressed the need to revisit cannabis' Schedule I placement under federal law. Holder said, "[T]he question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that I think we need to ask ourselves, and use science as the basis for making that determination."

The testimonial part of the evidentiary hearing in United States v. Pickard, et. al., is expected to last three days.

Poll: Majority Of Delaware Residents Favor Legalizing Marijuana

Newark, DE: The majority of Delaware residents favor legalizing the use of marijuana by adults, according to statewide polling data released last week by the University of Delaware, Center for Political Communication.

Fifty-six percent of respondents agreed with the statement, "The use of marijuana should be legal." Thirty-nine percent of those polled disagreed with the position.

Opposition was strongest among those aged 60 or older. Among all other age groups, a substantial majority of respondents backed legalization.

Recent statewide polls in various states, including Connecticut, Georgia, New York, and Texas, show similar public support for regulating marijuana use by adults.

The University of Delaware poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

New York City: Lowest Level Marijuana Arrests Persist Unabated

New York, NY: New York City police are continuing to make thousands of low level marijuana possession arrests despite past promises from newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio that he would direct law enforcement to end the practice.

According to 2014 arrest data compiled by the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, New York City police are on pace to make more lowest level marijuana possession arrests under the first year of Mayor de Blasio's term than they did in 2013 under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. As was also the case under Bloomberg, a disproportionate percentage of those arrested (86 percent) so far in 2014 are either Black or Latino.

Of those arrested, nearly three out of four possessed no prior criminal record. As in previous years, police most often arrested defendants following a stop-and-frisk search.

Although New York state law classifies minor marijuana possession offenses as a non-criminal offense, separate penal law (NY State Penal Law 221.10) defines marijuana possession in a manner that is 'open to public view' as an arrestable offense.

Full text of the report is available online from the Drug Policy Alliance @ https://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Race-Class-NYPD-Marijuana-Arrests-Oct-2014.pdf

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