In the latest phase of a decades-long effort to win the marijuana wars by using the federal administrative process to reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act, lawyers for former National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) director Jon Gettman and High Times magazine are preparing oral arguments before the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Attorneys from the law office of New York City-based Michael Kennedy will argue before the court on March 19. DRCNet has obtained a copy of their brief.

Although NORML first filed suit against the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs in 1972, and Gettman, as head of NORML for part of that time, participated in that lawsuit, its twenty-year odyssey through bureaucratic purgatory ended in failure. In 1995, Gettman filed a new petition asking the DEA to to reschedule marijuana because it did not fit the three criteria required to make it a Schedule I drug -- high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and no safe means of medical use. After sitting on the petition for two years, the DEA shuffled the petition off to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for required evaluation. Three years after that, in March, 2000, the DEA denied the petition. Gettman and High Times filed an appeal three weeks later.

In their brief, Gettman's and High Times' attorneys will ask the court to overturn the DEA denial on five grounds:

Robert Rionda, an attorney with the Kennedy law office who is working on the case, told DRCNet his clients remain confident that the court would find in their favor. "It may not be a popular issue with the court," Rionda told DRCNet, "but the legal arguments are strong and the court will be hard-pressed to deny our claims, especially given recent knowledge and the state laws allowing the medical use of marijuana."

Still, Rionda doesn't foresee final victory anytime soon. "If we win on the issues, the court will remand the petition back to the DEA and order it to do a proper evaluation. Then they will attempt to find other reasons not to reschedule," Rionda said. "They will be bogus, but then they could try to stretch it out for another six years."

-- END --
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Issue #219, 1/11/02 Editorial: A Line in the Sand | New California Bill Would Mandate 90-Day Minimum Jail Term for Being Under Ecstasy's Influence | Agenda for 2002, and DRCNet Monthly Donor Program Update | New Jersey Governor-Elect Calls for Needle Exchange, Cites Battle Against AIDS | Colombia Peace Process Collapses While Second Presidential Candidate Decries Failed Drug Policies | Supreme Court to Hear Public Transit Search Case, Bush Administration Invokes Terror War to Support Drug War Measure | Brazil Joins Ranks of Drug Reform Nations, Users to Avoid Jail Under New Law | Hemp Industry Takes DEA to Court Over Hemp Food Ban, Urges 9th Circuit to Throw Out DEA Interpretative Rule | Gettman-High Times Marijuana Rescheduling Action Heads for Federal Court, Latest Turn in Glacially-Paced Legal Battle | What Drug-Terror Link? Drug Money Not Mentioned as Feds End Investigation of September 11 Finances | Montana Sets Drug Policy Task Force -- No Dopers Need Apply | Internships at DRCNet | Alerts: Ecstasy Bills, HEA Drug Provision, Bolivia, DEA Hemp Ban, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana | The Reformer's Calendar

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