In a blow to medical cannabis activists nationwide, a federal judge dismisses lawsuit against Jeff Sessions. The suit sought to have the government’s classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act unconstitutional.
The decision was announced Monday at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that he did not have the authority to do as the plaintiffs had asked.
Instead, the plaintiffs must follow the administrative process put in place by the DEA.
Judge Hellerstein made it clear that he was not ruling on the efficacy of medicinal cannabis. He said his ruling “should not be understood as a factual finding that marijuana lacks any medical use in the United States,” according to a Reuters report.
The case has received national attention since it was filed in July of last year. Plaintiffs in the suit include former Denver Broncos defensive end Marvin Washington. Two children are also members of the suit.
Alexis Bortell is a 12-year-old girl from Texas. Her family moved to Colorado so they could legally acquire cannabis oil to treat her epilepsy. Jagger Cotte, 7, suffers from a terminal neurological conditions known as Leigh syndrome. Another co-litigant, Jose Belen, is a decorated Iraq War veteran who is now fighting PTSD.
Washington owns a company that makes CBD supplements for athletes. Bortell, Cotte, and Belen use cannabis therapies to treat their serious medical conditions.
Michael Hiller, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said after the case was dismissed that the case is a matter of life and death for his clients.
“Resigning the plaintiffs to the petitioning administrative process is tantamount to a death sentence for those patients who need cannabis to live.
The time has come for the courts to abandon decades-old precedent, notched with obsolete technicalities, and catch up with modern science and contemporary principles of constitutional law,” he said.
Plaintiff Belen said, in an official statement shared with us, that although the judge’s decision is a setback, it won’t be the end of the case.
“Judge Hellerstein’s ruling is disappointing, but it is just the beginning. My fellow plaintiffs and I will continue to stand strong for the veterans and countless Americans whose lives depend on access to medical cannabis. We are on the right side of history, and we will take this fight to the Supreme Court if necessary,” said Belen.
Final Hit: Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Jeff Sessions
Attorney Hiller has vowed to appeal the judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit.
“This case will continue to move forward. Notwithstanding the outcome of today, we remain confident that the final disposition of this case will include a finding that the classification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional—freeing millions of Americans to safely treat their conditions with a plant that maintains their health and their lives,” he said.
For the plaintiffs, Judge Hellerstein’s ruling to dismiss the case might have been the best result possible. The judge said if he had the power to decide the case, he would have ruled against them because there is no “fundamental right” to use marijuana.