On Jan. 14, 2015, one of the most important criminal cases regarding the status of marijuana as a Schedule I substance will be heard at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
The case is significant because, if it is dismissed, it would challenge federal law that says marijuana has no medicinal value, providing a first step toward potentially declaring the government’s war on marijuana unconstitutional.
In the case United States v. Bryan R. Schweder, et al., the defendants are charged with growing marijuana in Shasta-Trinity National Forest, a federally designated national forest in northern California.
The defense has called into question the Drug Enforcement Administration’s classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance, which means that it is considered a dangerous drug with a high potential for abuse and it has no medical use. Other drugs in this category include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote.
John Balazs, an attorney in northern California, who has been monitoring the case, explained the defense strategy to MintPress News as follows:
The defendants’ attorneys, Zenia Gilg and Heather Burke, are arguing that even if marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I substance, there is no rational basis for that classification. They also argue that marijuana does have medicinal value, as evidenced by numerous medical professionals and recent laws in states which have legalized marijuana.
“The result is,” Balazs said, “if they win, the case will be dismissed.”
This case might be the first time that this defense has been allowed to proceed since the drug classifications laws were created in the 1970s.