Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case to End Cannabis Prohibition in the US


On Oct. 13, the United States Supreme Court announced that it would not hear a case challenging cannabis prohibition at the federal level. The Supreme Court justices ultimately announced that it would be among the list of cases they declined to hear.

The plaintiffs in the case include NORML, former NFL player Marvin Washington, Alexis Bortell and military veteran Jose Belen, who argued that urged the Supreme Court to hear the case, Washington v. Barr.

The three-year campaign was initially filed against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2017. The lawsuit argued that the continual prohibition of cannabis at the federal level is “grounded in discrimination and [is] applied in a discriminatory manner.”

The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of cannabis’ status under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

“For every Brown v. Board of Education, there are dozens of earlier, lesser-known legal battles which set the stage for eventual changes in the law to right the wrongs of the past and the problems of the present,” Michael Hiller, attorney for the plaintiffs, told “Regrettably, [the Supreme Court] decision falls into the latter category, not the former.”

Sebastien Cotte, whose son Jagger was listed as a plaintiff in the case, told Marijuana Moment that he was not surprised by the outcome, as only about one percent of petitions are accepted by the US Supreme Court. Rep. Earl Blumenauer also expressed disappointment that the case will not be heard in the Supreme Court.

The lawsuit was rejected in a series of rulings by lower courts, leaving the US Supreme Court as their last option. In 2018, a US District Court Judge rejected the lawsuit, saying that no fundamental right to cannabis exists.

“This result is not altogether surprising,” said NORML Legal Counsel Keith Stroup. “Courts have rarely provided relief to those of us who believe that marijuana prohibition violates our civil and Constitutional liberties. It is Congress that imposed the federal prohibition of marijuana and ultimately it is up to Congress to repeal this destructive and discriminatory policy.”

Similar challenges federal district courts in the past have also been rejected.


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