Nevada Rules That the Schedule I Classification of Cannabis Is Unconstitutional
January 19, 2023 08:00 am ET
Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
The war on drugs facilitated by the federal government has been an utter failure. Despite cannabis remaining a Schedule I classification according to the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), meaning that it has no medicinal value, over 30 states in the United States have legalized it for its medicinal use. While this classification will remain at the federal level, thanks to a recent judgment by a Nevada judge against the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy, cannabis will soon be removed from the CSA in the Silver State.
Why the Change Now?
This all stems from an original case against the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy brought forth by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada on behalf of Antoine Poole and the Cannabis Equity and Inclusion Community, which is a Nevada-based organization that assists those looking to launch entrepreneurial endeavors within the state’s legal cannabis industry. This case originated due to the argument that the Schedule I classification of cannabis was unconstitutional based on the fact that voters in the state had legalized medical cannabis via a constitutional amendment in 1998.
In September, Clark County District Court Judge Joe Hardy ruled in favor of the plaintiff, stating that the Schedule I classification was indeed unconstitutional. He stated the following to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
“The constitutional right to use marijuana upon the advice of a physician does establish that marijuana has an accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”
Since 2000, when regulated medical cannabis became available to patients in the state, the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy has continued to list cannabis alongside other illicit substances such as methamphetamine and heroin. Lawyers representing the pharmacy board have stated that this classification has remained due to its continued listing as a Schedule I substance per the federal CSA.
Board of Pharmacy Operated Outside of Its Authority
The latest rolling by Judge Joe Hardy, however, establishes that the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy did not hold the authority to regulate cannabis under state law and ordered the agency to remove cannabis’s listing from the state’s CSA. In the state of Nevada, the designation of a substance as a controlled substance is invalid if the designation was made outside of the authority delegated by the legislature. Judge Joe Hardy stated that the board “exceeded its authority when it placed or failed to remove marijuana, cannabis, and cannabis derivatives on its list as Schedule I substances.”
This ruling has received great feedback from advocates throughout the state. ACLUNV’s legal director, Chris Peterson, stated that “this has been an ongoing inconsistency with how Nevada categorizes cannabis. For some people it’s a medicine or a good time on a Friday night, and for some people it was a felony. We’re glad that we’ve now resolved this inconsistency to prevent further injustice and will continue our work to ensure that the promise of cannabis decriminalization is realized in Nevada.”
The extent of positivity that this ruling will have for individuals throughout the state goes beyond the obvious. According to the president and co-founder of the Cannabis Equity and Inclusion Community, Ashley Dodson, this ruling could help to foster stronger social equity within the regulated cannabis industry in Nevada:
“Cannabis has been legal in Nevada for decades, but that hasn’t stopped law enforcement from treating Black and Brown people like criminals. We’re grateful for the ACLU of Nevada for taking this case on and for Judge Hardy for hearing it with fairness and dignity. As far as social equity is concerned, we’ve seen businesses act strategically to keep Black and Brown people out of the unlicensed market by preventing pathways to ownership. CEIC is hopeful that as the last loopholes allowing for the criminalization of cannabis fall by the wayside, we can get back to our original mission of assisting the communities harmed the most by the failed War on Drugs find a way into the industry.”
Cannabis Is Medicine—This Is Undeniable
It is undeniable that cannabis has medicinal value. This has been noted in millions of anecdotal stories as well as hundreds, if not thousands, of research studies performed by accredited researchers from a variety of institutions. Claiming that cannabis does not have medical value is an outright lie and, unfortunately, one that our federal government continues to stand behind as its representatives scream that we need more research but continue to block every avenue for research around every corner.
Shawn Hauser, with the pro-cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP, stated that Hardy’s ruling “is a positive development in cannabis reform, in line with recognition by federal lawmakers and the public that cannabis has known medicinal value, can be safely regulated, and is not properly classified as a schedule 1 controlled substance that has no accepted medical use.”
Hopefully, with this change in the state of Nevada, we will see other states where cannabis has been legalized follow suit with the removal of cannabis from their state-regulated list of controlled substances.
The Smokescreen of Lies and Propaganda Is Lifting
It was less than a century ago that cannabis was removed from the U.S. Pharmacopeia. Prior to that time, cannabis was widely embraced and utilized for its medical benefits, legally, right here in the U.S. Doctors prescribed it. Pharmacies provided it. Then, racist, greedy individuals stepped in and changed the path of this plant within the country and in places around the world. This has left a lasting negative impact on many aspects of our society, from our health to our economy and many things in between.
Luckily, the smokescreen is lifting, and people are learning the truth regarding cannabis. This can be seen in the advocacy efforts that have led to 37 states reforming cannabis laws and legalizing medical cannabis programs.
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