A lawsuit that challenges the federal government's classification of marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic received its first hearing in court yesterday. And while no early decisions have been made, it appears the judge may be slightly pro-cannabis.
Yesterday the U.S. government asked the court to throw out the lawsuit challenging marijuana's classification. Over the course of the hearing, Judge Alvin Hellerstein made a number of statements challenging the government's position. At one point when a U.S. attorney argued that there was no accepted medical use of cannabis, Hellerstein shot him down and said, "Your argument doesn’t hold," and, "Your argument is not getting anywhere.”
Hellerstein throughout the hearing made it clear that he sees cannabis as having a medical use. He noted that dangerous opioids are only classified as a Schedule II narcotic, meaning they're considered safer than marijuana by the government. He also said, “We recognize that there are medical issues that can be treated with medical marijuana, such as pain."
At one point, the U.S. attorney said that marijuana had not saved any lives. Hellerstein immediately shot back, noting that one of the plaintiffs in the case, Alexis Bortell, is a 12-year-old girl who needs cannabis to prevent her seizures.
“It’s saved a life,” Hellerstein said. “She has no more epileptic seizures. If there is an accepted medical use your argument doesn’t hold.”
While Hellerstein didn't seem convinced by the U.S. government's argument, he still said he wasn't sure if it was his place to make a judgment on marijuana's legal status. Previous lawsuits that attempted the same outcome as this one have been shot down for similar reasons.
Hellerstein is expected to make a decision on whether or not to dismiss the lawsuit in the next couple of days.