U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller punted the marijuana scheduling issue back to Congress with her decision today to not change the drug's designation in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
"This is not the court and this is not the time," she noted, while acknowledging that "the landscape has changed" since the CSA was instituted by Congress 45 years ago.
Marijuana (or THC) is currently listed as a Schedule I drug, which mean it has a "high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use in treatment." Reform advocates were hoping that Mueller would remove, or deschedule, marijuana from the CSA entirely; others hoped for a reclassification to another Schedule, such as II, III or IV.
NORML's deputy director Paul Armentano issued the following statement:
"We applaud Judge Mueller for having the courage to hear this issue and provide it the careful consideration it deserves. While we are disappointed with this ruling, it changes little... It is our hope that lawmakers move expeditiously to change public policy. Presently, bipartisan legislation is before the House and Senate to recognize cannabis’ therapeutic utility and to reschedule it accordingly, and we encourage members of Congress to move forward expeditiously to enact this measure.”
The case, which was heard in October, stemmed from the 2011 arrest of 16 people accused of growing cannabis in California's Shasta-Trinity National Forest.