CA judge may issue ruling on marijuana rescheduling within 30 days

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez |

Is cannabis as harmful as heroin?

After oral arguments yesterday, a US district judge may issue a ruling on marijuana’s drug classification in the next 30 days.

A decision by Judge Kimberly J. Mueller in US v Schweder would not change the federal designation of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, the designation for the most dangerous and least-medically useful drugs. However, she could declare the designation unconstitutional.

Mueller did not rule from the bench yesterday, according to the Eastern District of California Blog, but she did say she could rule “soon.”

The rescheduling battle began with some busts of outdoor grows in 2011. Two marijuana grow sites in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest were raided by officers from the United States Forest Service, the North State Marijuana Investigation Team, California Highway Patrol and Trinity County Narcotics Task Force. According to Marijuana Investor News, some of those arrested spent years in prison.

The 14 defendants’ defense, including the titular Bryan Schweder, an owner of one of the grow sites, rests on the argument that there is no basis for marijuana to be classified as a Schedule I controlled substance.

It’s irrational for marijuana to be prohibited under federal law as having “no accepted medical use,” the defense argued, since now 23 states have legalized medical cannabis.

Jeremy Daw, author of Weed the People, live-tweeted the proceedings. According to Daw, the judge asked the defense if they were asking for rescheduling of marijuana, or decriminalization. The defense answered: “Decriminalization, your honor.”

Efforts to reschedule cannabis have been underway for years, but all have failed. Recently, a lawsuit to compel the Drug Enforcement Administration to reschedule the drug was thrown out by a federal judge.

The court case has drawn mainstream press attention, drawing an editorial from the Los Angeles Times condemning federal classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug.

“This discussion is a welcome one. Whether the Drug Enforcement Administration’s classification is constitutional or not, it shouldn’t take a judge to point out that lumping marijuana in with heroin and deeming it to have no medicinal value at all is unreasonable and unnecessary,” the LA Times editorial board wrote.

A ruling from Mueller, they noted, would only apply to the defendants in this case and could be appealed. But her decision could open the floodgates, prompting a tide of similar motions challenging the notion that marijuana is a Schedule I drug.

Yesterday Mueller told the court that she would rule within 30 days, saying, “I have what I need.”