Medical Marijuana Advocates Sue US Federal Government over 9-Year Delay

originally published on ENewsPF

A Coalition of advocacy groups and patients filed suit in the DC Circuit Court today to compel the Obama administration to answer a 9-year-old petition to reclassify medical marijuana.

The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) has never received an answer to its 2002 petition, despite a formal recommendation in 2006 from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the final arbiter in the rescheduling process.

As recently as July 2010, the DEA issued a 54-page “Position on Marijuana,” but failed to even mention the pending CRC petition. Plaintiffs in the case include the CRC, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Patients Out of Time, as well as individually named patients, one of whom is listed on the CRC petition but died in 2005.

“The federal government’s strategy has been delay, delay, delay,”

said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel of ASA and lead counsel on the writ.

“It is far past time for the government to answer our rescheduling petition, but unfortunately we’ve been forced to go to court in order to get resolution.”

The writ of mandamus filed today accuses the government of unreasonable delay in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. A previous cannabis (marijuana) rescheduling petition filed in 1972 went unanswered for 22 years before being denied.

The writ argues that cannabis is not a dangerous drug and that ample evidence of its therapeutic value exists based on scientific studies in the US and around the world.

“Despite numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies establishing that marijuana is effective” in treating numerous medical conditions, the government “continues to deprive seriously ill persons of this needed, and often life-saving therapy by maintaining marijuana as a Schedule I substance.”

The writ calls out the government for unlawfully failing to answer the petition despite an Inter-Agency Advisory issued by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006 and

“almost five years after receiving a 41-page memorandum from HHS stating its scientific evaluation and recommendations.”

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