The Good, The Bad and The TBD Of Medical Cannabis Legal Decisions (UPDATED)

Seal_of_the_United_States_Supreme_Court.pngThe medical cannabis movement has seen no shortage of pivotal court cases over the years. From Robert Randall’s landmark victory winning the right to use medical cannabis to Ed Rosenthal’s controversial conviction for cultivation that five members of the jury recanted when given information about Rosenthal’s role as a medical grower for the city of Oakland that had been suppressed during the trial the courts have played a key role advancing and sometimes blocking progress on the issue.

While we hope that with Congress and President Obama taking important steps to protect medical cannabis patients we’ll see fewer of the types of court cases that have caused so much senseless pain, there is little doubt the courts will continue to be worth watching in the coming years. Here’s some recent important court cases you might have missed.

The Good: New Mexico Patients Win Greater Freedom of Choice

Medical cannabis is very often a medicine of last resort, but why? Given the powerful benefits of cannabis and it’s extremely impressive safety profile its probably safe to say that lack of safe access is a big factor. No matter what the reason, we’re confident that letting patients and their doctors decide when to try cannabis is the right thing to do.

Last week state District Judge David Thomson agreed striking down a New Mexico law requiring patients exhaust “standard treatment” options before joining the medical cannabis program. The lawsuit was brought by Santa Fe psychiatrist Carola Kieve who hailed the decision saying, “Beginning today doctors and patients in New Mexico will be able to make together important decisions about care and treatment without interference from state government.”

Letting decisions be made by doctors and patients is a key tenant of the medical cannabis movement and we hope to see more states recognize that cannabis shouldn't be exclusively a last course of action.

The Bad: Cannabis Remains a Schedule I Drug

The classification of cannabis as a schedule I drug was about politics and not science from day one. Despite many legal challenges and petitions to have cannabis rescheduled common sense has repeatedly lost out.

Last month some had pegged their hopes for reclassification to U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller, who had held a hearing on the constitutionality of cannabis as a schedule I drug. Unfortunately yet again the government was able to keep cannabis as a schedule I drug.

The TBD: Colorado Defends Its Laws From Legal Challenges

Earlier this year Nebraska and Oklahoma filed a federal against Colorado claiming that Colorado’s recent legalization of cannabis is unconstitutional under federal law. While the case is not immediately about medical cannabis, if Nebraska and Oklahoma are successful it could set a precedent that could undermine medical cannabis programs by extension. Although it’s a long shot that Colorado will lose, it’s too important a case to ignore. Last week Colorado asked the Supreme Court to toss out the lawsuit.  


The Supreme Court has asked the US solicitor general’s office to file a brief expressing its views on the case.

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