This is not the first time lawyers have sought to use the courts to question whether marijuana should still be classified as a so-called Schedule 1 drug under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, the most restrictive category reserved for the most dangerous narcotics. Many of those efforts have come in criminal cases, and judges — including those on the United States Supreme Court — have routinely upheld Congress’s decision to make marijuana illegal.
The current legal action is a somewhat rare attempt to use civil claims to legalize weed and has offered some novel arguments as to why its classification has violated the constitutional rights of those who filed the suit.
The former football player, Marvin Washington, for instance, is contending that the Controlled Substances Act has impeded his ability to transact business in states where pot is legal in contravention of the Constitution’s commerce clause. The girl with epilepsy, Alexis Bortell, has argued that the law illegally restricts her right to travel with her medicine in states where pot is not allowed or to places controlled by the federal government — including on airplanes. A third plaintiff, the Cannabis Cultural Association, a nonprofit group created to assist minorities in the marijuana industry, has alleged the law has been used for years to discriminate against them.
“It’s the first time a young child who needs lifesaving medicine has stood up to the government to be able to use it,” said Joseph A. Bondy, one of the lawyers who brought the suit. “It’s the first time that a group of young millennials of color has stood up to the government and said the marijuana law is wrong and has destroyed their communities.”
The suit has made another claim based on what amounts to government hypocrisy: It asks why the government has classified pot as a pernicious substance, when in 2003 the Department of Health and Human Services obtained a patent on compounds in the drug to protect…