On Tuesday a federal court rejected an appeal to reclassify marijuana under federal law. Right now marijuana is considered a controlled substance having a high potential for abuse and no current medical use. In 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rejected another petition aimed at removing marijuana from this classification. Just to put things into perspective, according to the federal government, marijuana is classified with heroin, LSD, and ecstacy.
The Court of Appeals judges that rejected the appeal were Judge Harry Edwards, (Carter appointee) Judge Merrick Garland, (Clinton appointee) and Judge Lecraft Henderson, (George H.W Bush appointee). Their ruling was centered around the DEA’s decision in whether it was “arbitrary and capricious” not about the medical benefits of marijuana. As a matter of fact, Judge Henderson declared that the petitioners didn’t have standing to even challenge the government’s decision and the case should be dismissed. The court ruled in favor of the DEA supporting their position on the substance.
According to the DEA accepted medicinal use would require adequate and well controlled studies proving efficacy. One of the petitioning groups, Americans for Safe Access, cited nearly 200 peer-reviewed studies showing marijuana’s efficacy for various medical uses. They even brought forward a study by the Institute of Medicine, a government adviser, which suggest, marijuana might have medical benefits. Still, the DEA insists that the results called for further studies to determine marijuana’s medical applications. (Huffington Post)
According to marijuana advocacy group NORML, marijuana serves multiple medicinal purposes. A short list includes pain relief particularly from nerve damage, nausea, glaucoma and movement disorders. Marijuana also serves as an appetite stimulant and can greatly benefit individuals suffering from HIV and AIDS. It has also been shown to help individuals with dementia. Studies have also found that marijuana can protect the body against certain types of malignant tumors and in some cases even stop the growth of tumors.
There are also 60 U.S. and international health organizations which support legal access to medical marijuana under a physician’s supervision.
The court wrote that the petitioners didn’t reference well controlled studies regarding the efficacy of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Americans for Safe Access will most likely petition for a rehearing. At the end of the opinion, however, advocates for the legalization of marijuana still have some room for hope. The opinion stated that “adequate and well-controlled studies are wanting not because they have been foreclosed, but because they have not been completed.” This ruling suggests that as research continues on marijuana more conclusive evidence might help sway the opinion and stigma of marijuana in the federal courts.