Happening:

Seeing through the smoke


Christopher Gallagher

Can this cannabis lawsuit group take the government down?

Ar 170739936
Alexi Grojean/Special to DGO
Ar 170739936
Alexi Grojean/Special to DGO

It turns out, upon undertaking a bit of research, that “fighting fire with fire” is a real thing; firefighters battling forest fires have been known to use a technique which involves setting a controlled blaze in the path of an oncoming inferno for the purpose of devouring the fuel available for the approaching conflagration with the hopes of extinguishing the primary fire by virtue of the fact that it will have nothing left to feed it.

This week’s CannaBosses is a crew made up of a couple kids and their parents, a war veteran, a Super Bowl champion, and a nonprofit organization who are using the courts to combat what they consider an immoral law. They have filed suit in New York’s Southern District against the United States of America, the Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA acting director Chuck Rosenberg, and our boy Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (in which century was this dude born and named?!?) for acting in bad faith in their execution of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970 as it pertains to cannabis.

The plaintiffs are a fairly varied lot and they bring suit for a variety of reasons: Marvin Washington, a member of the Broncos 1998 Super Bowl championship squad, claims that the CSA violates his rights by making him ineligible for federal programs to start a cannabis business; the parents of two children, one residing in Colorado as a result of the family’s move here to avail themselves of legalized medicine, and one from Georgia, are suing due mostly to travel restrictions; Joe Balen, of Florida, is a U.S. Army veteran who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of his deployment in Iraq and seeks the right to unrestricted travel including travel to military bases; and the Cannabis Cultural Association, a 501(c)3 nonprofit based on New York with a mission to help change cannabis laws to have a positive impact on communities and individuals interested in being involved in cannabis business opportunities.

The Controlled Substances Act is a Nixon-era relic that establishes the “scheduling” of drugs into five categories or schedules, supposedly based on their relative danger. Cannabis was placed under Schedule I, the most harmful and restricted category, consisting of substances “classified as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.” The purpose of the suit is to place an injunction against the portion of the CSA governing the restrictions against and enforcement of laws concerning cannabis on the grounds that the statutes were composed in bad faith and are thereby unconstitutional.

Though the stated reasons for bringing the suit cover a range of social situations and conditions that have made life worse for American citizens as a result of the CSA, the claim that “the Federal Government does not believe the factual predicate underlying its own arguments of the CSA as it pertains to Cannabis, the CSA is irrational and thus unconstitutional” seems to be the most damning. This challenges the pseudoscience and social engineering used since Nixon (whose panel of medical experts concluded that cannabis does, in fact, have medical value) to demonize a plant whose only true fault is that its widely ranging value runs counter to corporate interests. I’d love to see this group of CannaBosses, people brave enough to take on the government, be the ones responsible for lighting a fire that burns an entire corrupt system to the ground.

Christopher Gallagher lives with his wife and their four dogs and two horses. Life is pretty darn good. Contact him at chrstphrgallagher@gmail.com.