A federal judge in New York was recently put in the position to decide whether marijuana’s Schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act was a civil rights violation.
However, the defendant charged in the case ended up accepting a two-year prison term before the court ever had a chance to comment.
According to the Bradford Era, the public defenders appointed to drag 58-year-old Randy Wade Kenyon out of the mud after he was caught in possession of more than 800 cannabis plants, filed a motion with the court that asserted the DEA’s Schedule I listing for marijuana violated Kenyon’s civil rights.
The motion said this classification indicates the herb has “no medicinal value,” but it clearly does according to state law.
“Especially irrational, however, is the government’s insistence that marijuana has no ‘currently accepted’ medical use,” the motion declared. “Such a position is simply unsustainable as demonstrated by numerous peer-reviewed studies, the recent passage of regulations by the New York Department of Health governing its medicinal use, the recent publication of an article in the Journal of American Medical Association noting marijuana’s efficacy compared to opioids and its widespread prescribed use of marijuana in states that have permitted the medicinal use of marijuana.”
In August, several of Kenyon’s illegal grow operations in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties were discovered by a statewide marijuana eradication effort funded by the DEA. This led to Kenyon being charged with a felony under federal law—putting him at risk of being sentenced with up to 40 years in prison and fines reaching $500,000.
Although medical marijuana is legal in New York, only those companies with a commercial license are permitted to grow. Unlike some legal states, NY patients are not allowed to engage in home cultivation—especially when hundreds of plants are concerned. It is for this reason the DEA continues to give law enforcement agencies all over the state hundreds of thousands of dollars every year for the sole purpose of tracking down illegal cultivation sites.
In 2015, New York received $356,000 to chop down more than 11,000 pot plants, which led to the seizure of over $1.6 million in assets.
Unfortunately, before the federal judge was forced to address the civil rights argument in Kenyon’s case, a plea agreement was accepted. Kenyon will now reside in a federal penitentiary for the next couple of years.
Incidentally, no one has ever successfully argued the civil rights defense in connection to a federal marijuana crime. In fact, the Supreme Court has yet to even acknowledge the medical necessity defense.
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