U.S. Southern District of New York Judge Alvin Hellerstein has dismissed the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Schedule I classification of cannabis on the grounds that the plaintiffs had not exhausted the administrative remedies – a petition process through the Drug Enforcement Agency – before filing their suit.
Michael Hiller of Hiller, PC, the lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said the legal team will likely appeal the ruling.
“Resigning the plaintiffs to the petitioning administrative process is tantamount to a death sentence for those patients who need cannabis to live. The time has come for the courts to abandon decades-old precedent, notched with obsolete legal technicalities, and catch up with modern science and contemporary principles of constitutional law.” – Hiller, in a statement.
Three of the plaintiffs named in the case are medical cannabis patients and, during a Valentine’s Day in court, Hellerstein admitted that cannabis had saved the lives of those plaintiffs but had foreshadowed his ultimate ruling, saying that the “right thing to do” was to defer to the DEA with regard to cannabis policy. Co-counsel Joseph Body said the court had declined to hear oral arguments on some of their points and “didn’t consider a number” of arguments.
“The plaintiffs weren’t the only ones who experienced a setback today. States and principles of federalism took a black-eye as well, and under the false premise that the courts are constrained by prior decisions to take actions, which the overwhelming majority of Americans, including members of Congress and the President, know are wrong.” – Lauren Rudick, Hiller, PC, co-counsel, in a statement
The team pointed out in their original complaint that it takes an average of nine years for the DEA to make any ruling on rescheduling or descheduling cannabis and all but one – for synthetic THC medication Marinol – have been denied.