Cannabis and heroin are two different beasts. Yet both are classified as Schedule I substances based on a “high potential for abuse” by the DEA. The inconsistencies between the dangers of cannabis and drugs like heroin has led a New Jersey appeals court to order a reclassification for the plant.
The groundbreaking decision came last Tuesday when a three-judge panel voted two to one to overturn a ruling Steve Lee, former state director for the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, made in 2014. In 2014, Lee denied a request to reclassify cannabis, citing federal understanding of the drug from the 1970s.
Attorney Joseph Linares previously attempted to overturn the ruling on behalf of Steven Kadonsky—an inmate serving life in prison for cannabis charges—and Genny Barbour, a medical patient suffering from autism-related seizures. Linares told NJ.com that state officials will have to determine whether cannabis will remain classified alongside heroin and LSD, and what those reasons would be, but they can no longer argue against the drugs medical benefits.
“What this decision does recognize is the widespread acceptance of marijuana use in medical treatment,” Linares said in a statement for NJ.com.
The ruling doesn’t change the legal status of cannabis in the state, but it does force critics to confront modern medical understanding of the drug. The decision means that cannabis must be considered for removal from New Jersey’s list of Schedule I substances. However, the presence of a dissenting vote means the ruling is open to a future appeal.
Recreational consumption of cannabis is illegal in New Jersey, but medical cannabis has been legal for nearly eight years. There are at least 15,490 medical cannabis patients throughout the state who use cannabis for treating HIV/AIDS, muscle spasms, seizure disorders, terminal illnesses and other approved conditions.
According to the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substance Law, the head of Consumer Affairs in the Attorney General’s Office has the authority to add, remove and reschedule any drug.
Source: Culture Magazine