Manhattan Federal Judge Declares Marijuana Saves Lives
A federal judge weighed in on whether marijuana should be considered a dangerous drug on Wednesday, seeming sympathetic to cannabis advocates.
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Manhattan judge Alvin Hellerstein heard arguments for a July 2017 lawsuit in which several medical marijuana users sued the federal government.
The plaintiffs are pushing for the current classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug to be ruled illegal. One of the plaintiffs is Alexis Bortell, the 12-year-old girl with epilepsy who made headlines with her move to sue Jeff Sessions. Alexis suffered from debilitating seizures which subsided when she began using cannabis oil. She had to move from her home state of Texas (where cannabis use remains illegal) to Colorado in order to access the medicine she needs.
The other plaintiffs include 7-year-old Jagger Cotte who has Leigh's Disease. Since taking THC-concentrated medicine, he "has stopped screaming in pain, has been able to interact with his parents, and has prolonged his life by more than two years," the suit asserts.
"Your Argument Doesn't Hold."
The Assistant U.S. Attorney, Samuel Dolinger argued for Judge Hellerstein to throw out the suit, claiming that there was no accepted use for marijuana in the United States.
For cannabis advocates, Hellerstein's response is cause to throw triumphant fists in the air.
"How can you say that?", he responded to Dolinger, "Your argument doesn't hold."
The judge also pointed out that the plaintiffs before him were "living proof of the medical effectiveness of marijuana."
Although the federal judge seemed sympathetic to the plaintiffs' plight, it remains unclear as to whether he has the power to rule on the current dispute or whether changes need to be pursued through government agencies. Hellerstein will issue a decision at a later date.
For now, at least, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug under federal law. Until that changes, doctors are not able to legally prescribe marijuana, even when patients stand to benefit considerably from its use. While a number of states have implemented some form of marijuana law, until cannabis is removed from the Schedule 1 list, many people will continue to be denied the medicine they desperately need.