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Progress in Landmark Federal Controlled Substance Act Lawsuit?

February 15, 2018


This morning, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York heard oral arguments on the federal government’s motion to dismiss Washington, et.al v. Sessions, et.al, a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of cannabis' classification under the Controlled Substances Act.


Currently cannabis is a Schedule I drug, which is defined as "drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." Alongside cannabis, other Shedule I drugs include heroin, LSD a.k.a. acid, peyote, and ecstasy.



This lawsuit was all about the constitutionality of marijuana’s federal status as Schedule I. The plaintiffs challenging the wrongful classification of marijuana were extremely compelling.


  • Former New York Jet and Denver Broncos Super Bowl Champion, Marvin Washington, who desires, but is ineligible (due to the CSA) to obtain grants under the Federal Minority Business Enterprise program, to open a business that would allow professional football players (among others) to treat with medical cannabis to serve as a neuroprotectant and antioxidant to protect them from the harm caused by repeated head trauma, and to reduce opioid dependency and addiction.

  • 11-year old girl, Alexis Bortell, who moved to Colorado from Texas to treat her intractable epilepsy with medical cannabis, and who has gone from having multiple, life-threatening seizures per day (while in Texas) to having no seizures at all since her treatment began with medical cannabis, nearly three years ago;

  • Seven-year-old Jagger Cotte, of Georgia who suffers from Leigh’s Disease and who has prolonged his life by two years beyond his maximum prognosis and has been able to control his excruciating pain through his treatment with medical cannabis.

  • Disabled military combat veteran Jose Belen, who treats with medical cannabis to control his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicidal ideation.


Convincing Enough?


In addition to the plaintiffs, there was Lead Attorney Michael S. Hiller and Lauren A. Rudick from Hiller PC, Attorney Joseph Bondy from the Law Offices of Joseph A. Bondy, and Attorney David Holland of Empire State NORML.


Attorney Hiller made his case clear, stating, “I represent people who need cannabis to live.” The DEA attorney's less-than-believable argument was that just because marijuana may have “medical utility,” that doesn’t mean marijuana has “accepted medical uses.”


Judge Hellerstein ended up admitting that, “We recognize now that there are medical purposes marijuana can be useful for,” also noting that states across the country have already recognized that. With that said, Judge Hellerstein is still determining whether or not to grant the federal government’s motion to dismiss the case.


This is a landmark cannabis case, and it just might move forward... To stay up to date with important developments in the cannabis industry, be sure to subscribe to one or more of our free email newsletters. Also, connect with The Daily Marijuana Observer on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!



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