Federal Courts to Hear Lawsuits Challenging Trump Administration on Marijuana This Week

Two court cases to be heard this week could lead to significant changes in federal marijuana policy.

shutterstock 501493168
shutterstock 501493168

Marijuana could soon be removed from the federal government’s most restrictive category of narcotics and the legality of hemp-derived CBD could also be cleared up, depending on the outcome of two cases that will be heard this week.

A federal district court in Manhattan will hear arguments that claim marijuana should not be classified as a Schedule One narcotic, a category reserved for drugs with no medical value.


There are multiple plaintiffs in the case including former NFL player Marvin Washington, Army veteran Jose Belen, 12-year-old Alexis Bortell, and the Cannabis Cultural Association.

Bortell made news over the summer when it was revealed that she was joining the lawsuit. Her family administers marijuana oil to relieve her epileptic seizures. Her family felt forced to move to Colorado since medical marijuana was not legal at the time in their home state of Texas. Bortell claimed she was suing Attorney General Jeff Sessions because she cannot visit her grandparents in Texas since marijuana is not legal there.

Recently, Texas started allowing patients with epilepsy to have access to CBD but patients must try at least two FDA approved treatments before qualifying.

Belen claims to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and feels that marijuana can help ease his symptoms. But the VA is not permitted to prescribe the drug to him.

“Once I did use cannabis, immediately I felt the relief,” Belen told ABC News.

Belen feels that those in need of relief with marijuana are being denied their rights.

“I went to Iraq to free the oppressed and I view this no different,” Belen said. “The oppression is only being done by our own government.”

The lawsuit argues that “classifying cannabis as a ‘Schedule I drug’ is so irrational that it violates the U.S. Constitution.”

The federal government, on the other hand, “uniformly rejects the notion that there is a fundamental right to use marijuana, including for medical purposes,” in a court filing.

In another lawsuit that will be heard this week, judges from the U.S. Ninth Court of Appeals for the ninth circuit will hear a case that challenges the Drug Enforcement Agency’s decision to create a separate drug category for marijuana extracts.

The Hemp Industries Association along with other individual businesses are suing the federal government, claiming that the decision by the DEA could negatively impact farmers and scientists who are growing and processing legally grown hemp. The suit argues that Congress’ Farm Bill protects hemp farmers.

This case could provide clarity on hemp-derived CBD products. The issue was highlighted this week as police in Tennessee raided 23 stores that were selling products that included CBD.

“This is a perfect a storm of cannabis legalization support and its growing momentum,” Nelson Guerrero, co-founder of the Cannabis Cultural Association and plaintiff in the case challenging federal scheduling of marijuana, said about the two lawsuits in a statement. “As activists, we must use every avenue possible to move the needle forward to ultimately end cannabis prohibition – whether it’s in the courts, on the streets, or through the media.”