New Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland's Conflicting Position On Cannabis

Since the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, activists for a number of causes including cannabis legalization and medical marijuana have been waiting with bated breath for the announcement of a new nominee Supreme Court Of The United States. With a seat on the highest court in the land, the new nominee could have significant impact in shaping legalization in the country and even around the world. Today, Barack Obama and Joe Biden announced that nominee would be Merrick Garland, a figure with significant past bipartisan support.

Since 1997, Garland has held a position as chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In 2013, Garland was one of three judges to oversee and rule against a case that sought to have marijuana rescheduled that was brought forward by Americans For Safe Access.

Rescheduling would allow for more research into the medical benefits of cannabis, but the Drug Enforcement Administration argued against rescheduling on the grounds that not enough scientific evidence existed to warrant the change in schedule.

"Don't we have to defer to the agency?" asked Judge Merrick Garland. "We're not scientists. They are."

That quote could be seen as both encouraging and discouraging. On the one hand, there is mounting scientific evidence of the benefits and efficacy of medical marijuana. A logical approach to cannabis legislation would have to conclude that further research is warranted. A number of businessmen from the cannabis industry reportedly praised Garland's nomination today for that reason.

On the other hand, having the judicial system defer to the DEA could be seen as the tail wagging the dog as the agency is under the U.S. Department of Justice.

Perhaps we'll learn more about the new nominee's position on cannabis and other issues as we move through the appointment process and requisite question and answer period with the Senate Judiciary committee.

h/t Wall Street Journal, Reuters, U.S. News & World Report


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