Federal appeals court sides with DEA on marijuana classification

A recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia contrasts heavily with the momentum shown in a number of states across the country evidencing liberalized attitudes toward legalized marijuana.

As we informed readers in a recent blog post (please see our December 20, 2012, entry), voters in both Colorado and Washington passed initiatives late last year that make possession of up to an ounce of marijuana legal for so-called “recreational use.” In addition, 18 other states and the District of Columbia have enacted medicinal pot laws, with legislation in other states pending, Readers should note that marijuana possession and distribution continue to be viewed harshly by the state of Georgia, and drug charges relating to pot can bring stringent criminal penalties.

Litigants in the recent federal case recently asked the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reconsider its view that marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug that “has no currently accepted medical use.” The DEA refused to alter its position — which makes pot production, sale and use illegal under federal law — and the matter ended up before the appellate court.

A panel of federal judges sided with the DEA, ruling that the agency had duly considered all relevant information before it and had acted within the scope of its authority in refusing to reclassify pot and place it into a lower tier of restrictions.

The court noted its deference “to the agency’s interpretation” and that the sole issue before it was whether the DEA acted properly. The court stated that it did not consider whether marijuana has any medical benefit.

Source: NBC News, “Marijuana restrictions: Appeals court backs DEA, rejects pot advocates argument,” Pete Williams, Jan. 22, 2013

  • Although marijuana laws are in flux across the nation, pot possession, sale and use in Georgia continue to be viewed as serious crimes by law enforcement agencies, and prosecuted harshly. Our firm staunchly defends persons accused of drug crimes who need experienced and proven legal assistance. Please visit our Georgia Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs page for relevant information.