Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to marijuana’s Schedule I status



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The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to consider Washington v. Barr, a case that challenged the federal Schedule I status of cannabis. The news came in a routine Supreme Court announcement earlier this morning. The court listed Washington v. Barr among the many cases that were denied certiorari.

The court’s action wasn’t surprising, but it came as a disappointment to the many plaintiffs and lawyers who have been working on the case for more than three years.

The lawsuit began in 2017, when it was called Washington v. Sessions, because Jeff Sessions was then the U.S. Attorney General. Five plaintiffs, including former NFL player Marvin Washington; 12-year-old Colorado medical refugee Alexis Bortell; youngster Jagger Cotte; US military veteran Jose Belen; and the Cannabis Cultural Association, a nonprofit that helps people of color benefit from cannabis in states where it’s legal, challenged the constitutionality of the classification of marijuana under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The case received its first hearing in federal court in 2018.

Leading the case was David C. Holland, a litigator in New York City and the executive and legal director of Empire State NORML. He’s former counsel to High Times Magazine and a member of the New York Cannabis Bar Association.

The case had been rejected in a series of lower federal court rulings. Plaintiffs had hoped to secure certiorari before the U.S. Supreme Court and force the nation’s highest court to confront the baseless standing of marijuana’s Schedule I classification.

Sebastien Cotte, whose son Jagger was a plaintiff in the case, told Marijuana Moment associate editor Kyle Jaeger: “While not surprising, as less than one percent of all petitions to the Supreme Court get a hearing, it is still very disappointing, as we been fighting for this case for over three years now.”

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