If the Founding Fathers of this country were cool with cultivating and using pot, then the current attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and the Department of Justice need to get on board and recognize that a decades-old federal policy is unconstitutional as it pertains to cannabis, an explosive federal civil lawsuit claims.
Former Jets defensive lineman Marvin Washington and several other cannabis advocates filed the lawsuit in Manhattan federal court Monday. According to the suit, the Controlled Substances Act — which went into effect in 1971 and which is responsible for marijuana being classified as a Schedule I drug — “has wrongfully and unconstitutionally criminalized the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis, which, historically, has been harvested to produce, among other things, medicine, industrial hemp, and a substance known as tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”).”
Washington has been a leading voice in the cannabis movement and he is the founder of Isodiol Performance products, which are THC-free, meaning they do not contain the component of cannabis that gets you high. Washington advocates cannabis use as a safe and less addictive means to treat the pain from debilitating injuries football players sustain during their careers, including trauma to the head and brain. The other plaintiffs in the suit include a military veteran, Jose Belen, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and two sets of parents of children who have serious medical conditions. The plaintiffs argue that cannabis use is an effective means of treatment in each of the individual cases, but that the CSA prevents the plaintiffs from accessing cannabis.
“Jose’s treatment providers at the Veterans Administration informed Jose that they are unable to prescribe medical cannabis because it is illegal under the CSA,” reads the suit, referring to Belen, the military veteran.
Currently 29 states and three U.S. territories have legalized marijuana for medical use.
The suit cites former presidents George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison — several of the nation’s Founding Fathers — as cannabis advocates, and the suit also lists more recent Leaders of the Free World, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as “accomplished statesmen” who are supportive of the cannabis movement.
“Despite the relatively recent stigmatization of cannabis in the United States as a supposed ‘gateway drug’ used primarily by ‘hippies’ and minorities, there is a long and rich history of people from virtually every part of the world using cannabis for medical, industrial, spiritual, and recreational purposes,” the suit reads. “Indeed, those who have cultivated, encouraged the cultivation of, and/or used cannabis include, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, James Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — an assortment of the most intelligent and accomplished statesmen in American history.”
Sessions, the embattled current AG who Pres. Trump has blasted on social media over the past few days and whose job security appears to be tenuous, is a defendant in the suit (as are the acting administrator of the DEA, Chuck Rosenberg, the DEA and the U.S.) and the plaintiffs detail in the suit Sessions’ efforts earlier this year to request federal funding for the Justice Department “to resume criminal prosecutions of State-legal medical marijuana patients, State-legal businesses that provide medical Cannabis to patients, and physicians who recommend such treatment.”
Lauren Rudick, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys who works at Manhattan law firm, Hiller PC, and who is the co-founder of Hiller’s cannabis business practice, said that if the plaintiffs are successful in their pursuit to have the CSA declared unconstitutional — as it pertains to cannabis — the substance will be de-scheduled. If that happens and the federal government decides to re-schedule cannabis, Rudick said the government would have to review current medical evidence that demonstrates cannabis doesn’t meet the criteria to be classified as a Schedule I drug.
“We are seeking a ‘declaration’ to that effect, and also a permanent injunction restraining enforcement of the CSA as written, as it pertains to cannabis,” said Rudick. “The classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug deprives individuals of basic constitutional rights, including Due Process and the fundamental right to travel. Some of these individuals, such as Alexis Bortell and Jagger Cotte (both plaintiffs in the action) are patients who seek cannabis as a means of life-saving medication. The government has a federal patent on cannabis, and has recognized the medical efficacy of cannabis in a variety of ways, yet Sessions is trying to reverse policy on cannabis use and contend that it has no medical use. It’s hypocritical.”