(Reuters) – Supporters of marijuana rights asked a federal appeals court on Tuesday to do what Congress and U.S. presidents have resisted for decades and help ease the level of regulation surrounding the popular recreational drug.
Oakland, Calif.-based Americans for Safe Access said there was no reason for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to control marijuana as tightly as it does heroin.
The argument is a new tack for marijuana supporters who have already won local approval for medical use in 16 states and Washington, D.C.
Americans for Safe Access lawyer Joseph Elford said the DEA ignored recent evidence of marijuana’s medical benefits when, in 2011, the agency declined to ease regulation. Federal law required the DEA to take that evidence into account, he said.