Appeals court to consider benefits of medical marijuana

By Sam Favate

The Associated Press

For the first time in 20 years, a federal court will review scientific evidence on the therapeutic value of marijuana, as a legal challenge by a group of doctors, medical professionals and patients makes its way to the U.S. court of appeals in Washington, D.C., next week.

Americans for Safe Access is hoping the challenge will change the government’s classification of marijuana from a dangerous drug with no medical benefits, the Guardian reported. Other groups, such as the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the Federation of American Scientists and the American Academy of Family Physicians support either medical access to marijuana or its reclassification to one that has a medical benefit.

“Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court,” Joe Elford, chief counsel for ASA, told the Guardian. “This is a rare opportunity for patients to confront politically motivated decision-making with scientific evidence of marijuana’s medical efficacy.”

Last year, the Drug Enforcement Agency rejected the ASA’s petition to reschedule marijuana, saying there wasn’t substantial evidence the drug should be removed from schedule 1. The DEA cited a five-year-old assessment from the Department of Health and Human Services that said there was no consensus in the medical community on the medical applications of marijuana.

In its reply brief, the ASA says the criteria used by the DEA and HHS to determine scheduling are flawed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear arguments in the case on Oct. 16.

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