The Lawsuit Heard Around The World

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A healthy and thriving society evolves and learns. As new information comes to light, the smart and stable adjust and acclimate. America is starting to realize the benefits of cannabis as a whole, and it won't be long before safe access isn’t just a dream we have any longer. There are some brave people in our country standing up for what is right, and the future is looking bright all thanks to them.

This past month we have been watching a group of plaintiffs go up against the Trump administration for their marijuana policy. Their goal is to have the government declare marijuana as a safe drug. The journey ahead is long, but every step shows us that there is a bright light at the end of this tunnel.

Meet The Plaintiffs

Alexis Bortell

Alexis Bortell and Jagger Cotte are both pediatric medical marijuana patients who are joining the fight for the U.S. to declare marijuana a safe drug. Alexis, who is twelve, has been using cannabis to treat her seizures and has even told The Rolling Stones, "It's helped me succeed in school more, since I don't have to go to the nurse every day because of auras and seizures. There was no medicine in Texas that would stop my seizures, and not only that, but they had horrendous side effects that would be worse than the actual seizure."

Jagger Cotte

Six-year-old Jagger Cotte has been using cannabis for his neuropathic pain caused by Leigh’s Disease. His mother and father, Annet and Sebastien Cotte, have become significant activists in the fight to legalize medical cannabis. In an interview with Fox News, Cotte said, “ If we can change the law to help even one kid, one patient, it's totally worth it.”

Jose Belen

The third member of this group of plaintiffs is Jose Belen, a combat veteran who speaks about his experience with PTSD. Once struggling alone, he found relief through cannabis and wants others to seek out help as well. He has even started his own business in the cannabis industry training his employees on how to work with veterans.

Marvin Washington

It should be no surprise that the next person on the list is a former NFL player. They experience a type of pain for years that has been treated with harmful chemicals. Marvin Washington, a former New York Jet, has been pushing for the NFL to change their marijuana policy to make football a safer environment. Considering how prominent pain-killer addiction and brain trauma are, his goals are for the NFL to introduce cannabis as a safe alternative.

Cannabis Culture

Cannabis Culture is a non-profit organization who work towards ending the war on drugs and also promote people of color in the cannabis industry. They have been fighting discrimination for people of color in the industry, and don’t stop there with their compulsion to make the world a better place. They make it clear that this fight for safe access is a human rights issue and more needs to be done.

Their Argument

The plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit on the grounds that labeling marijuana as a schedule 1 drug is so irrational, it’s unconstitutional. With the mountains of evidence piling up, there is no way the government truly believes that marijuana fits the criteria for a schedule 1 drug. The standards are as follows:

  • No current accepted medical use
  • Lack safety under medical supervision
  • Have high potential for abuse

Other drugs that are also categorized are methamphetamine, PCP, and cocaine. Many wonder how cannabis could possibly be associated with these extremely dangerous drugs. And at this point, the rest of the world is starting to pick up on the hint.

Opposing Views

Samuel Dolinger, an assistant US attorney, says the case should be dismissed because, “courts around the country have considered similar or identical claims and have rejected them,” according to Forbes. But the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Michael Hiller, finds that rationality to be quite absurd.

“There is a well-established body of case law that when the facts change, the courts have to change, too…If you only decided case law based upon what people thought years before, we would never have Brown v. Board of Education. … We would never have Windsor. We wouldn't have marriage equality.”

What Does The Judge Think?

Though Judge Alvin Hellerstein considered the motion to dismiss the suit, he was vocal about his views on medical marijuana. Both Dolinger and Hellerstein worked with the deal that made cannabis a schedule 1 drug, but Hellerstein verbally agrees that marijuana can be beneficial.

Micheal Hiller reported that the judge made it clear that cannabis doesn’t meet one of the three requirements to be a schedule one drug. This outward acceptance is a huge step, and one not often seen in the courtroom.

Where Are We Now?

At the moment, we can only wait to see the ruling. The judge seems to be partial to new cannabis laws, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen. If things go according to plan and the judge decides to go through with the lawsuit, they expect to have trials starting in the summer. 

Sarah Potts


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