Prohibition went on trial this week in New York, where five medical marijuana patients have filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the DEA for the federal government's ban on medicinal cannabis use. So far, the proceedings aren't going very well for Sessions, a staunch opponent of marijuana legalization.
“How could anyone say your clients’ lives have not been saved by marijuana?" Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein asked on Wednesday. "How could anyone say their pain and suffering hasn’t been alleviated by marijuana?” Hellerstein added after Sessions' defence denied that marijuana is a legitimate medicine.
Lawyers for Sessions and the DEA pointed to federal law, which says there is no accepted medical use for cannabis and defines marijuana as a substance that is as dangerous as heroin. Unfortunately for them, Judge Allerstein threw out that argument.
“How can you say that …’There is no currently accepted medical use in the United States?’” Hellerstein asked. “Some states have said there is accepted medical use… your argument doesn’t hold.”
In fact, 31 states have legalized medical marijuana already, and jurisdictions like Tennessee, Kentucky and Utah are currently considering motions to follow suit. So there are accepted medical uses for cannabis in the country, whether the feds want to recognize that or not. But the might be forced to accept marijuana as medicine if the judge rules against Sessions.
Right now, there's no telling if this week's initial victory will lead to an overall win in the case, but one plaintiff is just happy to see that the issue is finally being addressed.
“The sheer fact that we were given the attention we received, it was a win," said Jose Belen - a US Army veteran who uses marijuana to cope with PTSD. While untreated, the symptoms of the trauma he suffered during combat alienated him from his family and tore apart their domestic life.
“When we would go to my son’s football games and we’d try to have this family together time of fun and happiness and smiling, he would just be angry for no reason,” Jose's wife Danielle told the New York Post recently. “Now that he’s using cannabis, those triggers, those thoughts, those intrusive things that go on with him that you don’t see on the outside stopped and he’s able to actually have fun and enjoy life.”
“I found my smile again and it helped me be the husband I was always meant to be,” Jose added.
And if the lawsuit against Sessions is successful, medical marijuana patients across the country will share Belen's smile.