Federal Judge Dismisses Former NFL Player’s Marijuana Decriminalization Suit

Friday, March 30, 2018
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On February 26, 2018, a New York federal judge dismissed a former NFL star's suit demanding decriminalization of medical marijuana. U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said the Second Circuit has already determined that Congress had a rational basis to classify marijuana as a Schedule I drug.

Schedule I drugs are those drugs that allegedly have no known currently accepted medicinal use and have a high potential for abuse.  Marijuana is right up there with LSD and heroin (15,466 heroin overdose deaths in 2016).


The Fight to Decriminalize Marijuana.

The suit brought by Super Bowl winner and now weed entrepreneur Marvin Washington and others, seeks to challenge aspects of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) through the court when remedies are available through federal agencies, like the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Along with Washington, the action was brought on behalf of two young children, an American military veteran
and the Cannabis Cultural Association organization, all of whom have suffered harm and are continuously threatened, by reason of the provisions of the CSA.

Washington, a former Jets football player, is hoping to force the hand of Congress and the White House by arguing that current federal policy is unconstitutional given marijuana’s health benefits. The complaint filed in September of 2017, argued the 1970 federal law classifying marijuana as a dangerous drug violates patients' rights.

Click here to read the complaint in full.

At a hearing in early February 2018,  Judge Hellerstein did acknowledge that marijuana's health benefits are beyond question, but also warned Washington and the advocates that the district court was not an appropriate forum for the suit.

In his new ruling, he dismissed the suit because the Second Circuit found, in its 1973 United States v. Kiffer decision, that the Controlled Substances Act is constitutional.


Additional Ammo.

Judge Hellerstein said it’s clear that Congress had a rational basis for classifying marijuana in Schedule I, and executive officials in different administrations have consistently retained its placement there. In an example, he said the DEA's most recent denial of a petition to reclassify marijuana listed a number of public health and safety justifications for keeping marijuana in Schedule I.

To read the judge’s order in full, click here.

To learn more about the status of marijuana, click here to read one of my prior blogs and be sure to check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly for updates. 


Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


The Hypocrisy of Marijuana Prohibition Must End.

One must ask when people who are supposed to be rationale are going to demand an end to this marijuana abuse hypocrisy.  One day our children we will look back on this century of prohibition and scratch our heads and ask "Why?" just as we currently do for the alcohol prohibition of the 1920' and 1930s. All it would take is an administrative agency decision to move marijuana form a Schedule 1 to a different schedule and all the current criminal law problems would go away.

Does marijuana have an accepted medical use?  There are many cancer victims who think so.  There are many doctors who are writing orders for medical marijuana in states where it is legal who think so.  It is known to be a relaxant, to depress pain, to encourage sleep and to stimulate appetite (or so I am told).

As far as it having a high potential for abuse, is it as high as cigarettes?  As high as sodas containing caffeine and sugar?  As high as chewing gum?

And how many deaths each year are attributable to marijuana overdoses?  In 2015 there were zero.  Probably more people choked on chewing gum overdoses.  Compare this to legal, prescription opioids and other similar drugs--over 19,000 deaths in 2015.  Legal alcohol, available without a prescription--over 30,000 in 2015.  [I apologize because I do not have more recent statistics.]  And yet marijuana is somehow seen as a villain?  If anything, cigarettes and tobacco products should be placed on Schedule 1.  Again, one day our children will look back and, as many countries have done already, say "what a crock of s**t that was."


Sources:

Simpson, Dave. “Ex-Jets Player Loses Pot Decriminalization Suit.” Law360. (February 27, 2018). Web.

Brush, Pete. “Ex-NFLer's Pot Decriminalization Suit Hits Possible Snag.” Law360. (February 27, 2018). Web.

Bellware, Kim. "Here’s How Many People Fatally Overdosed On Marijuana Last Year." (12/28/15)
www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/marijuana-deaths-2014_us_56816417e4b06fa68880a217

Welch, Ashley. "Drug Overdoses Killed More Americans Last Year than the Viet Nam War." (Oct. 17, 2017)
www.cbsnews.com/news/opioids-drug-overdose-killed-more-americans-last-year-than-the-vietnam-war/


About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.


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3/30/2018

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