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US Supreme Court Rejects Marijuana Reclassification Appeal

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #804)
Politics & Advocacy

The US Supreme Court Monday declined to hear an appeal from medical marijuana advocacy groups who had challenged the DEA's decision to maintain marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, the category reserved for the most dangerous substances.

The court denied in summary order a petition for a writ of certiorari from the groups, led by Americans for Safe Access, which had sought Supreme Court review of a DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding the DEA's ruling that a change in marijuana's classification required the Food and Drug Administration's recognition of acceptable medical uses for the drugs.

Advocates of rescheduling marijuana have been trying to do so for more than four decades, but have been thwarted by DEA delays and intransigence. This was the third formal rescheduling effort to be blocked by DEA decision making.

Schedule I drugs are deemed to have no acceptable medical uses and a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule I drugs include LSD, MDMA, and heroin. Despite the fact that there is an ever-increasing mountain of research detailing marijuana medicinal effects and despite the fact that 20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, the DEA continues to insist that it cannot be down-scheduled.

Joe Elford, lead attorney on the case for Americans for Safe Access, told Law360 that the Supreme Court's denial of certiorari was in line with its reluctance to overturn lower court and administrative decisions on medical marijuana.

"It's disappointing, but not altogether surprising," he said.

A fourth effort to reclassify marijuana led by the governors of the medical marijuana states of Rhode Island and Washington was filed in 2011 and is still awaiting action.

[For extensive information about the medical marijuana debate, presented in a neutral format, visit]

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Budnonymous (not verified)

the route is through the food and drug administration! now we know where to go first to try to get the law amended. the people have spoken. time will tell!

Mon, 10/07/2013 - 7:40pm Permalink
Mad Hatter (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymously (not verified)

Maybe they need to hang

Up their robes, like retire.

Trators to the USA, fulled by greed and ignorance.

Let them eat cake, indeed

We will rise, in time i hope to dismantle & destroy the coruption in our goverment before it is to late.

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 3:49pm Permalink
the red witch (not verified)

In reply to by Mad Hatter (not verified)

in what way does the decision that the article talks about point at government corruption? Why would it be in the favor of the government to make a decision that goes against the majority of the people, if it isn't a beneficial decision?


marijuana does not react the same with every person, i'll leave you to think about this

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 4:05pm Permalink
Mitch53 (not verified)

In reply to by the red witch (not verified)

"Why would it be in the favor of the government to make a decision that goes against the majority of the people, if it isn't a beneficial decision?"

They do it all the time. Its called money. The decision is beneficial, to the cabal of politicians who feed on the drug war lobbyists money. 


Tue, 10/08/2013 - 4:47pm Permalink
Informed (not verified)

In reply to by the red witch (not verified)

Nor is everyone, or anyone, being encouraged to use marijuana. You could say that exact thing about literally every chemical out there- they do not react the same with all people. The simple facts here are that it does have scientifically proven medical benefits, and Schedule 1 is for drugs that do not. That's all their is to it. Failing to reschedule marijuana is a blatant denial of scientific fact. 

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 6:33pm Permalink
the good witch (not verified)

In reply to by the red witch (not verified)

  No it does not. I will have to agree with you on that point only.  The medicinal benefits of marijuana far, far, far outweigh any negative effects of the herb. I speak from personal experience and from doing a vast amount of research on the subject. It is a solid fact which can not be debunked no matter how much or whatever propaganda says otherwise. For many, myself included, it is not about getting high. It is about getting healthy and staying healthy.  Cannabis is gaining a wide and respected reputation for helping patients detox from rx narcotics with little-no with drawl symptoms or side effects.  Chemical pharmaceuticals, including opiates and benzodiazepines, are well known for their addictive and toxic side effects.  Furthermore, healing, pain relieving oils and salves can be made from cannabis that have no psychotropic effects whatsoever. If you haven't heard of Rick Simpson or Phoenix Tears, I strongly suggest you do a "google" search and discover these facts for yourself.

   As for your comment re govt corruption, well, that is just common sense. i.e., Clarence Thomas, prior to being appointed to the supreme court was an attorney for Monsanto. I seriously hope you are aware of the Monsanto Protection Act and it's history. THAT is a good example of our governments corrupt behavior and actions. Unfortunately, for those of us who are Americans, the corruption doesn't stop there.  Greed and caring little or not at all for the interests of everyone, (as opposed to the few), is at the heart of this atrocity.   And while I mean no disrespect, I will leave you to think on my comment a bit.

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 8:58pm Permalink
Macronder (not verified)

In reply to by the red witch (not verified)

True, marijuana does not react the same with every person. Neither do pharmaceuticals. For myself, it is definitely not a good thing. I am one of the rare ones that it makes me angry. But, I have seen personally the help it does for many others. It has helped with the pain of osteoporosis for my mother. It makes bipolar persons a bit more normal. I have advocated its legalization since I was 12. I could see a financial benefit in taxation. Now though, it could be too much competition for the drug companies.

Wed, 10/09/2013 - 12:58am Permalink
mike dar (not verified)

In reply to by the red witch (not verified)

The very people that are involved with this decision are recipients of the majority of the 50 billion dollars a year that comprises the "WAR".

50 billion dollars is a GREAT 'favor'.

50 billion dollars always affects every person the same way. I'll leave you to think about this.

Thu, 10/10/2013 - 1:19pm Permalink
Don McAdams (not verified)

In reply to by Budnonymous (not verified)

No surprise at all that the DEA wins and the Supreme Court doesn't wanna rule either way, but the Fear & Death Advocates are NOT a to be trusted nor relied upon, neither. We need to do what WA and CO did. There's a reason the federal government didn't file an injunction to challenge full legalization in those 2 states... 'cause they know they would lose their case! Supremacy Clause gives federal authority only to laws that are granted by the Constitution. Prohibition is based on the Constitutional mandate to protect the public health and safety. If they can't prove that, they lose, then all states would go for full legalization. THIS is exactly why they are actively pushing medical marijuana - because at least it's still some level of control once prohibition itself is over... We need to legalize in as many states as possible! Ohio has begun, see my homepage for details.
Tue, 10/08/2013 - 3:00am Permalink
Clifford Alan … (not verified)

I wonder what the Supreme Court knows that my VA doctors don't? After years of opiate use, methadone from 05-09, 3x a day, the prescriptions are "killing me," my doctor's words. The VA faxed my records to a medical state without residency requirement. Im a Medical Cannabis Patient, living in a state which doesn't care, in a country that no longer cares, but my doctors, those that have the medical knowledge, care... So SCOTUS without the MD, You're wrong again.. The DEA doesn't want you to change anything, too much tax money and asset forfeiture, but how has the DEA contributed to health and harm reduction, except jail nonviolent individuals, and how does putting one in prison help Americas overall health?
Mon, 10/07/2013 - 8:31pm Permalink
Uncle Bob (not verified)

The change will come about from the state-by-state domino effect.  Don't expect federal legalization tomorrow.  It will come in time.  When the majority of US states have legalized, that will probably mean the majority of US congressman support legalization.  THEN and and only then I would begin hoping for final victory.

Mon, 10/07/2013 - 8:48pm Permalink
Marijuana Kills (not verified)

In reply to by Uncle Bob (not verified)

Marijuana in the US is 25 times more potent than it was 20 years ago.  It ignores reality to argue that it should be defined today as no longer needing regulation under US law -- or international treaties.  The people have not spoken, just a group of very wealthy concerns who can buy advertising to buy elections.  Don't be naive to think that you will ever get final justification if marijuana keeps getting more harmful.

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 12:39am Permalink
CaliCulture707 (not verified)

In reply to by Marijuana Kills (not verified)

If your consuming less to achieve the same effect it can be nothing but better for you. Less carcinogenic smoke . There are many studies that show even tho carcinogenic it has no links to causing lung cancer. In fact it cures many cancers,how can that be bad? Medical or not it puts a smile on millions all around you every day! Peace :)
Tue, 10/08/2013 - 1:17am Permalink
CaliCulture707 (not verified)

In reply to by Marijuana Kills (not verified)

If your consuming less to achieve the same effect it can be nothing but better for you. Less carcinogenic smoke . There are many studies that show even tho carcinogenic it has no links to causing lung cancer. In fact it cures many cancers,how can that be bad? Medical or not it puts a smile on millions all around you every day! Peace :)
Tue, 10/08/2013 - 1:20am Permalink
SoPhillyFred (not verified)

In reply to by CaliCulture707 (not verified)

Cannabis can be used in many ways other than smoking it. Oils extracted from leaves and stems while very low in THC contain high concentrations of other cannabinoids that are beneficial to the immune system and hence help fight diseases. Oils can be used alone or in foods, such as salads (hemp oil is high in essential amino acids) or blended into other foods such as butter or ice cream.

Medicinal and recreational use aside, hemp is one of  the most useful plants on the planet! Food supplements as was mentioned above, hemp protein isolate (better than whey protein used by body builders) clothing that is stronger and more durable than cotton, building products are are superior in energy efficiency, moisture resistance, and again durability and strength. Vinyl (plastic) made from hemp is stronger and lighter than fiberglass or steel, and extremely resilient to temperature changes and impacts.

Trees on the other hand are carbon sequestration sources and producers of oxygen. it takes much longer for a tree to grow than hemp, so it makes perfect environmental sense to use a fast-growing and replenishing source of medicinal and industrial raw material than trees. 

Saving the forests are the best way to reduce carbon and increase oxygen, which will make us all healthier. And that may reduce the need for costly health care!

Wed, 10/09/2013 - 6:09pm Permalink
Nevereventried it (not verified)

In reply to by Marijuana Kills (not verified)

Perhaps, person marijuana kills, you are a complete blithering moron who does not read the paper and has no idea how many innocent people that the drug LAWS are responsible for killing...or how many law enforcement agents those laws have corrupted, or that being arrested and imprisoned for drug use doesn't stop anyone from getting MORE and BETTER drugs in prison- trafficked into prison by guards who cannot resist the money they can make selling  drugs to inmates (inmates can easily obtain pot, cocaine, heroin- you name it, they can get it).

Perhaps you are illiterate and cannot read the news, so you are unaware that it isn't just a street cop who is corrupted by the vast amounts of money that prohibition makes possible, it is chiefs of police, judges, prosecutors, crime labs- who are also corrupted and rendered 'not credible.' And maybe you don't realize that when a cop's word is not longer credible- when the cop engages in 'report-a-lying' and 'testilying' because he or she is strongly encouraged to make arrests regardless of the guilt or innocence of those on whom they plant drugs- that all the other cases in which their testimony helped convict a rapist or killer or child molester, are in jeopardy of being tossed out, allowing real, dangerous criminals to be released from prison. If so, then perhaps we can understand why you are so eager to continue the ban on what other people wish to ingest.

Otherwise we may think you are a corrupt cop who stands to lose a lot of money if drugs of any sort were decriminalized. Personally, I dislike all drugs, including alcohol and cigarettes, so I don't do them. But I dislike police corruption even more than I don't like drugs, and I dislike most of all those who enable the corruption  and endanger the rest of society by putting so much temptation before otherwise good cops. What people like you do is to put the few remaining GOOD cops in a position of having to (1) look the other way when their colleagues or even police chief is selling/ using/ stealing drugs and drug money, or (2) exposing the corruption and risk their very lives, or (3) give up hope that anyone out there will do anything about the corruption and join in. If you are worried about the people who use the drugs dying because of the potency of the drug, you really need to examine your motives for why you think that would be any of your business in the first place. The cost of arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating those who use ANY type of illicit drug is FAR more than it costs society to take care of them or their families, as well as the cost of corrupting cops, courts, judges and prison guards. 

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 3:08am Permalink
surfdal (not verified)

In reply to by Marijuana Kills (not verified)

having been a cannabis user for 48 yrs , i can tell you that high potency cannabis has been available all along (asian and middle eastern strains, columbian and central american strains very potent also), the lower quality, usually from mexico and was cultivated by growers that had no concern re:quality. more potent cannabis means less product used to create the desired effects.   duh..   this is a positive for users ,who adjust their intake accordingly, and  should be for those concerned with supposed health issues. your issue regarding potency is of no real concern and is designed to be just a talking point for the ignorant.

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 7:52am Permalink
Rodriguez (not verified)

In reply to by Marijuana Kills (not verified)

Just because a substance is dangerous or potentially harmful is not a reason to be forbidden, Legalization means to regulate, prohibition is the opposite and therefore, elevates potential dangers, third, the people were not asked for their opinion to start prohibition either.

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 8:16am Permalink
cvwaller (not verified)

In reply to by Marijuana Kills (not verified)

Your mistake is in believing prohibitionist propaganda in the first place. Cannabis is a beneficial plant, not a dangerous "drug". Those are toxic synthetic chemical compounds.

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 10:16am Permalink
Informed (not verified)

In reply to by Marijuana Kills (not verified)

So tell me... if the amount of THC in the marijuana, which would constitute it's "strength", is what makes it dangerous, why are scientists working with pharmaceutical companies to develop pills of pure THC(Marinol) as an alternative to other ingestion methods? Your ignorance is painfully obvious, and humorous even considering how superior you obviously tried to sound you were when typing that.

Your statistics on the strength of pot are pulled straight out of someone's ass, as well. It's literally impossible, considering the spectrum of marijuana out there, to make a blanket statement like that with any kind of accuracy. There's plenty of that brown, seedy, outdoor grown ditch weed out there still, and there are plants of such potency that people use their buds in microgram doses. 

The potency of the plant is not the danger of marijuana. The only provable danger is in the smoking of it, and there's no evidence to prove smoking marijuana is any more dangerous than smoking tobacco. To the contrary, the chemicals in cigarettes and their proven link with causing cancer suggests smoking tobacco can be more dangerous, while marijuana has been shown to actually fight cancer cells.

Perhaps you shouldn't weigh in on subjects you know very little about.

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 6:44pm Permalink
Reverend M. Yedinak (not verified)

In reply to by Marijuana Kills (not verified)

First of all quite to the contrary there is no evidence that Marijuana is unsafe. It is certainly safer than alcholol or cigerettes and every pharmicy drug I have ever heard of.. As far as the diffrent effects it has on different people that may be true but that is more likely due to the differences between strains than to anything else. Depending on breed it can cause hunger or put off hunger sleepiness or cause one to be energized. One must first understand a herbs properties before generalizing between everything of that species. Would you say that a citrus were sour just because you ate a lime and maybe a lemon so it must be true of them all. No exactly that is plain stupidity just like saying any generalization Just caue some white folk live in trailers does not make every white person Trailer trash nor every black a gangsta every oriental anal retentive brain or all mexican's lazy all stupid generalizations. You need to open your mind to the beuty of the world that is around us instead of the hate.

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 8:45pm Permalink
rayray396 (not verified)

what do you expect from a group of 80 year old people,,,,that are judges who are not allowed to let outside media  and research information assist them in their decisions

Mon, 10/07/2013 - 10:20pm Permalink
Giordano (not verified)

The idea that Justices Scalia, Alito or Kennedy could ever come to a rational decision concerning the science of marijuana is expecting a bit much. 

Scalia was just quoted recently evoking his belief in the Devil.  Scalia’s focus in a marijuana scheduling would likely be on the Europeans in the 16th century who executed people for smoking hashish or opium (because such drugs were the work of the Devil, according to common belief).  Scalia will want to preserve the Devil’s precedent.  Alito and Kennedy are two more prohibitionists with a medieval outlook involving recreational drugs. 

Clarence Thomas could be a wobbler.  Thomas might fondly recall smoking weed while viewing porn.  But then he’ll want to maintain his image as a religious conservative and vote with the medieval ones that include Justice Roberts, who will probably side with Big Pharma if his Citizen’s United vote was any indication.

The outlook for a positive outcome in a Supreme Court rescheduling case looks bleak.  The Court may just shuffle the rescheduling decision back to the DEA in Kafkaesque fashion.  It might be useful to watch the Supremes make fools of themselves doing so, but that happens way too often to attract any useful attention.

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 1:11am Permalink
kickback (not verified)

The US government itself has a patent on Cannabis as having " medicinal " properties . Google it and do your homework . It`s been a racket since day 1 . Congress , the President , the dea and the fda , each have the ability to re-schedule Cannabis . They prefer musical chairs instead .

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 2:19am Permalink
Richard Paul Steeb (not verified)

"Schedule I Cannabis" is a Damned lie, and anyone with a room temperature IQ knows that today. 

Government trough-feeders will perpetrate gross atrocity to maintain their meal-ticket, and the black-robed clowns are no help.  Legalization via legislation is the way forward.  Make it happen.

Thanks, Joe Elford for taking it to the bitter end.  It's been a long struggle!

-Rick Steeb, San Jose California

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 10:20am Permalink
Richard Paul Steeb (not verified)

The black-robed clowns defer to the DEA's "judgment" on the subject, as if the DEA's #1 raison d'etre / meal-ticket weren't the eradication of Earth's most beneficial plant species.

The utter absurdity that a non-toxic, medically useful herb has to pass pharmaceutical muster to achieve the same degree of legality as the carcinogenic and violently addictive herb tobacco is mind boggling. "Schedule I Cannabis" is a Damned lie on its face.

The way forward is legalization, state by state. Hit this HARD:

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 10:48am Permalink

My husband has to turn away many skilled applicants everyday because they can't pass a drug test.  So instead of ending up with the best candidate he often ends up with a smoke free air head who only serves to dilute the talent at his facility.

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 11:18am Permalink
Cliff (not verified)

The Supreme Court (what a joke) will preserve the police state until their last breathe.

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 5:25pm Permalink
Nemo (not verified)

They are representative of the majority of an equally waning generation. The generation that was brought up to trust government...and thus believed its' lies.

The 'sea change' that is occurring with regards to cannabis prohibition and drug law reform in general can be laid at the feet of the generational shift that has taken place, and brought the former victims of DARE into their social, economic and political majority. They are showing what price authorities pay when they lied to those same people as children, and those children grow up and find out the truth on their own.

It is those former children the prohibs were so anxious to keep as 'marks' in the con game that is drug prohibition who have been behind the recent victories against that prohibition. A point the prohibs try strenuously, desperately to ignore.

But no matter; drug law reformers have always known the eventual awakening of the 'sleeping giant' would take place; we always had the numbers, now we have the organizations and the demonstrated will to overturn the prohib con game.The majority of the population is with us...and the prohibs' main supporters are being rendered ineffectual by age, senescence, and other infirmities.

With each swing of the Grim Reaper's actuarial scythe, the prohibs are losing the camouflage provided so handily by those they duped to remain pawns on their chessboard and marks in their rotten, corrupt con game. And those they hoped to recruit as replacement 'marks' know it's a con game...and are not interested, thank you.

More and more, it is becoming clear that the DrugWar never served those it was supposed to,and has enriched both cartellistas and those who hoped to use prohibition to frighten the public into giving up both money and power in the form of their rights. They are being exposed for what they are, and cannot hide behind those they fleeced for so long any more,as they're dying off. As will the likes of Scalia.

Tue, 10/08/2013 - 9:10pm Permalink
D wilde (not verified)

What is wrong with this? yea the big pharmacy companies have a hand in in and that won't change, till we rule alcohol and tobacco is bad for your health, it should be treated like alcohol, 21 and older but the judges on the Supreme Court drink and smoke and find nothing wrong with, have them in a DUI or kill someone when they drink.


Wed, 10/09/2013 - 3:17pm Permalink
kickback (not verified)

The USA supreme court is basically a multi-national corporate enabler institution . Don`t tell me that my car tire is not flat when we can both see clearly that it is . You do the math .

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 3:51am Permalink

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