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NJ Court: Medical Cannabis Benefits ‘Abundant and Glaringly Apparent’

November 1, 2017
(KenKPhoto/iStock)
A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that the state must reconsider marijuana’s legal classification because its health benefits are “abundant and glaringly apparent.”

The appellate court ruled Tuesday that the former director of the Division of Consumer Affairs was wrong when he said he must defer to the federal government, NJ.com reports. The medical benefits of cannabis weren’t known in 1971 when New Jersey first adopted the federal government’s Schedule I classification, which includes drugs like heroin and others that don’t have an “accepted medical use.”

The Attorney General's Office intends to appeal the decision.

According to the court, the state must reevaluate marijuana’s classification because cannabis is now legally used to treat a variety of ailments.

“What this decision does recognize is the widespread acceptance of marijuana use in medical treatment,” attorney Joseph Linares said, calling the decision “an important incremental step” toward reclassification. He said the change would reduce “inflated” prison terms for people like his client, who is serving a life sentence under the state’s “kingpin” statute.

The Attorney General’s Office, meanwhile, says it intends to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Related

Lawsuit Takes Big Swing at Prohibition. Can It Connect?

While a number of legal actions over the decades have challenged the federal Schedule I categorization of cannabis, they’ve repeatedly fallen flat. In 2012, advocacy group Americans for Safe Access filed an appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, arguing that the DEA’s Schedule I classification of cannabis was arbitrary and capricious, contradicted by available scientific evidence. Judges were unmoved, however and the appeal went nowhere.

A more recent lawsuit, however, still has a chance. In July, plaintiffs filed suit against US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice, and the Drug Enforcement Administration in an effort to forbid the federal government from enforcing the Controlled Substances Act as it pertains to cannabis.

“The Federal Government has admitted repeatedly in writing and implemented national policy reflecting that Cannabis does in fact, have medical uses and can be used and tested safely under medical supervision,” says the complaint, filed in the Southern District of New York.

“We are arguing that Congress enacted a statute that’s so irrational as to be unconstitutional,” Michael Hiller, one of the attorneys on the suit, told Leafly after it was filed.

Related

New Jersey’s Primary Was a Huge Win for Legalization. Here’s Why

Medical marijuana has been legal in New Jersey since 2010. Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, however, has repeatedly dismissed the health benefits of cannabis and in some cases sought to impede legalization. Politicians and activists alike are planning to make further reforms once he is termed out and leaves office in January.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  • ThorosiousD

    A step in the right direction for sure. But it makes me wonder how long it will take them to further realize how ALL forms of cannabis can benefit our human existence. I’ll pick a random subject as an example:
    If a now quite rare strain once known as Kentucky Hemp could be found in some isolated ditch in Iowa, reformed and cultivated properly on a single acre of land; It could produce the following choices twice per year:
    * 8,500 lbs of seed used for food processing or livestock and fish food
    * 300 gallons of hemp seed oil per harvest squeezed out of the seed for making non toxic bio-diesel or any number of petroleum based products.
    * 5 tons of biomass for making ethanol, solvents, or a large variety of building materials which are currently supplied by only a few corporations.
    * Enough paper pulp to save 4 acres of trees owned by Mead Paper Company which would get declared a wasteland they write off on taxes.
    * Enough fiber to replace 3 acres of pesticide and herbicide laced cotton without herbicide from monsanto.
    The highly consolidated well connected corporations and their puppet republicrat actors know this and therefore still divert all subject matter to focus only upon the THC strains and the vilified culture that surrounds it because they can then continue the “war on drugs” as an excuse to deny the free farming of hemp.
    It goes on from there, but you get the idea. Local prosperity, redundant oil and energy sources, healthier people, medicines, local fashion trends, non toxic biodegradable plastics, new innovations, local stores, reduction of chemical toxins in the environment and more from simply growing a natural plant.
    Of course I’m well aware that I’m preaching to the choir but it seems reasonable to at least share my ramblings with new readers who may not be aware of the full picture yet. After all, there are millions of misinformed people out there who still believe cannabis is some kind of evil “gateway” drug that will turn us all into violent communistic addicts who are too lazy to work.

    • Excellent essay. We do still have the goombahs that refuse to open their minds, but it seems now that they are mostly sanctimonious types who refuse to admit they’ve been wrong all these decades.
      Bruised egos. That’s all.

      The truth has set us free. 😊

    • War Is A Racket

      It’s mind boggling that Marijuana can be legal for medicinal use in over half the country (~150 million people) and the government still classifies it as having no medicinal value. Truly mind boggling. Just another reason why we need term limits. We don’t need dinosaurs, especially religious dinosaurs, impeding the progress of our society. It sure is telling that one of the first places where Marijuana was legalized recreationally was in the most densely populated area in the country for politicians, Washington DC. You don’t have to follow the rules when you make them. Add up the populations of the 8 states that legalized it and Washington DC and you’ll see the United States Government is blatantly opposing Democracy almost in an unprecedented manner in modern American times.