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Federal judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Sessions and DEA on cannabis’ Schedule I status

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A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Monday, in which a diverse group of cannabis advocates challenged Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Drug Enforcement Administration due to cannabis’ status as a Schedule I drug. Specifically, the complaint challenged the constitutionality of the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) and how it pertains to cannabis.

The plaintiffs include an Iraq war veteran, a child with a seizure disorder and an ex NFL player. They claimed the CSA’s classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance – meaning it has no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse – is so “irrational” it violates the constitution.

Federal Judge Alvin K Hellerstein dismissed their case, stating his decision was not on the merit of the plaintiffs’ claims, but rather the plaintiffs are still required to exhaust administrative remedies. These remedies include petitioning the DEA to change cannabis’ classification.

“Resigning the plaintiffs to the petitioning administrative process is tantamount to a death sentence for those patients who need cannabis to live,” the plaintiffs’ attorney Michael S.Hiller said in the statement. “The time has come for the courts to abandon decades-old precedent, notched with obsolete legal technicalities, and catch up with modern science and contemporary principles of constitutional law.”


During the case’s oral arguments on Feb. 14, the government said the plaintiffs had not petitioned the DEA to reclassify cannabis.

“When agencies are set up to do the very thing that you want me to do, the right thing to do is defer to the agency,” Hellerstein told Hiller.

The attorney plans to appeal the decision.

“This case will continue to move forward,” he said “Notwithstanding the outcome 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.”

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Federal judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Sessions and DEA on cannabis’ Schedule I status