Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee, Merrick Garland, has already shown himself to be a naïve and cruel cannabis prohibitionist. He has ruled against even the slightest rescheduling of cannabis for recognition of its medical value and for retaining research prohibitions.
Since its thoughtless and bigoted classification as a Schedule I drug without medical value over 40 years ago, the DEA has successfully resisted attempts at rescheduling. The DEA waits years, sometimes decades, to finally reject petitions for reclassification.
The last time this happened was 2011, and then the petitioners appealed the DEA’s rejection to the Federal Appeals Court of DC, where Garland and two others ruled. This appeal differed from those before in that it included actually medical marijuana patients from Americans for Safe Access, ably represented by Joe Elford, chief counsel.
As FREDERIC J. FROMMER wrote after the 2013 ruling:
In his majority opinion Tuesday, Judge Harry T. Edwards wrote that the question wasn’t whether marijuana could have some medical benefits, but rather whether the DEA’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious.” The court concluded that the DEA action survived a review under that standard.
Essentially the appeals court, Judge Garland included, took the DEA line. Actually hook, line, and sinker. They somehow rejected the seminal 1999 Institute of Health Marijuana And Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. This study debunked (again) the “gateway drug” lie about marijuana and did assert medical uses.
The DEA’s refusal to reschedule cannabis as “arbitrary and capricious” was proven way back in 1988 by its own law judge, Francis Young. In his call for rescheduling he ruled:
- The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision.
- It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record. (emphasis mine)
The court, though, decided that because the (arch-prohibitionist) Department of Health and Human Services agreed that cannabis has no medical uses, the DEA’s decision to refuse rescheduling stands. Thanks to Judge Garland, marijuana remains, by federal law, a Schedule I drug, without medical value, with nearly total restrictions on research, and subject to harsh penalties for possession.
The lack of reasoning and compassion by Garland and the rest of his court is astounding and appalling. Certainly, placing this blind faith in obviously compromised federal bureaucracies is beyond naivety. Is it not cannabigotry to deny the medical benefits of cannabis to the court’s medical petitioners and millions of other patients across the country?
Many of us voted for Barack Obama in hopes that his policies and, especially Supreme Court appointments, would favor freeing cannabis from its federal clutches. Yet again the president has proven a major disappointment.
From the aspect of cannabis law reform, Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of a former federal prosecutor and proven prohibitionist is the worse possible choice. Garland’s outlandishly naïve and cruel ruling against rescheduling should disqualify him. We can now only hope that this unfortunate appointment is voted down in the Senate, provided he even gets the hearing his nomination deserves.