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Calif. judge declines to end war on marijuana

By Chris Roberts |

The war on weed won’t end in a California courtroom.

A longshot effort to change cannabis’s outlaw status in America failed today, after a federal judge rejected a motion to reschedule the plant, according to California NORML.

Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act, the classification reserved for the most dangerous, most addictive, and least medically efficacious substances. Pot, according to your government, is more sinister than cocaine and methamphetamine.

That’s not rationally sound, but that’s the way it needs to be for now, according to Judge Kimberly Mueller. Mueller is the judge in an illegal cultivation case called USA vs. Schweder. Defense attorneys for a man facing federal charges for growing pot on national forest land — a serious and indefensible no-no — had argued that keeping marijuana in Schedule I is unconstitutional. That may be, but Mueller isn’t the person to make the call, she ruled Wednesday.

The court has to “tread lightly” around the rescheduling issue, which is typically a power reserved for Congress. Kicking rescheduling to Congress is what President Barack Obama has also done time and again, so that Mueller would similarly punt is not surprising.

Although it’s been 45 years since weed was demonized by official statute and much has been learned about the plant’s palliative powers, it’s up to Congress to sort things out, Mueller said.

It’s a defeat for legal weed and for science, but that Mueller listened to arguments at all — this is the first evidentiary hearing that challenged the government’s statute on cannabis “in recent memory,” according to California NORML — is a significant step that shouldn’t be ignored.

Her ruling may be appealed, but it’s not clear if defense attorneys plan to do so.

In the meantime, there’s legislation in both houses of Congress that would reschedule cannabis to Schedule II, meaning weed could be prescribed by a doctor without fear of imprisonment. Times are a-changing, even if a lone judge couldn’t change the world on her own.