Family in DeKalb Sues Sessions over Cannabis Classification
(APN) ATLANTA — A family in DeKalb County has joined a coalition of plaintiffs from around the country to challenge the federal government’s classification of cannabis, or “marijuana,” as a Schedule I drug, which means a dangerous substance with no medical benefits.
Sebastien Cotte is representing his son Jagger, 6, who suffers from Leigh’s disease, a terminal neurological disorder. At age one he was put in hospice.
The family moved from Stone Mountain, Georgia, to Colorado so Jagger could receive cannabis oil treatment. He has been taking the oil for three years; most children with Leigh’s Disease don’t live past four.
Cotte credits cannabis oil for extending his son’s life.
He and the other plaintiffs have filed a federal lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The federal lawsuit filed on July 24, 2017 challenges the constitutionality of the federal Controlled Substance Act (CSA), as it pertains to cannabis.
The 89-page complaint filed in the Southern District of New York claims the federal government has never believed that cannabis meets the Schedule I requirements.
The lawsuit challenges the classification as a misapplication of the federal Commerce Clause, a violation of the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment, and a violation of the fundamental right to travel.
The lawsuit contends that the classification is “irrational” and thus does not meet the rational basis test that the courts have used to consider classification systems that do not warrant heightened scrutiny, such as race or gender.
The case intends to overturn the Supreme Court of the U.S. ruling in Gonzales v. Reich (2005), in which the Court upheld the federal government’s power to make cannabis illegal at the federal level per the Commerce Clause.
“First, as shown below, the CSA as it pertains to Cannabis violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution because the CSA is so irrational as a matter of law that it cannot be said to be rationally related to any legitimate government purpose,” the lawsuit states.
“Under Federal Law, it is not enough for the government, in arguing in favor of a statute’s constitutionality, merely to manufacture a supposedly ‘legitimate government interest’ to which a law is rationally related for the purpose of responding to a lawsuit; the government must also actually believe its own argument,” the lawsuit states.
In 2001, the federal government obtained a patent #US6630507 on components in marijuana. The patent lists certain cannabinoids as useful in diseases such as Alzheimer, Parkinson, HIV, dementia, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Therefore, the federal government contradicts its own opinion, raising questions about the true motivations of the classification scheme.
The lawsuit further contends that the true motivations for the classification of cannabis are grounded in animus or hatred. Even this is not an allowed government purpose that the courts do not allow, despite typically giving great deference to government.
Specifically, the lawsuits claims that the Nixon Administration insisted that cannabis be included on Schedule 1, so that Blacks and war protesters could be raided and incarcerated.
“The CSA as it pertains to Cannabis was enacted and subsequently implemented, not to control the spread of a dangerous drug, but rather to suppress the rights and interests of those whom the Nixon Administration wrongly regarded as hostile to the interests of the United States — African Americans and protesters of the Vietnam War,” the lawsuit states.
“The Nixon Administration recognized that African Americans could not be arrested on racial grounds, and war protesters could not be prosecuted for opposing America’s involvement in Vietnam. However, the members of the Nixon Administration decided that Cannabis was the drug of choice for these two groups,” the lawsuit states.
“Consequently, the Nixon Administration ushered the CSA through Congress and insisted that Cannabis be included on Schedule I so that African Americans and war protesters could be raided, prosecuted and incarcerated,” the lawsuit states.
The Plaintiffs seek for cannabis to be downgraded.
The other Plaintiffs include Dean Bortell, representing his daughter, Alexis, 11, who has intractable epilepsy. Her family moved from Texas to Colorado to treat her seizures with medical cannabis.
Jose Balen, 34, of Seminole County, Florida, is an Iraq veteran and uses medical cannabis to treat post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Both children and Balen are are suing the federal government for taking away their fundamental right to travel to other U.S. states where medical cannabis is illegal.
Marvin Washington, a retired NFL player is suing because the CSA makes him ineligible to obtain grants under the Federal Minority Business Enterprise program to start a medical cannabis business.
Cannabis Cultural Association is a nonprofit organization fighting to reform the criminal justice system and to improve access to medical cannabis, and is advocating for adult use legalization.
A new federal bill introduced by U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Darren Soto (D-FL) would reschedule cannabis as Schedule 3, a classification shared by Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, and dronabinol.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2017)