This week, we cover a new lawsuit against the DEA, reserach supporting cannabis’ positive role in the opioid crisis, a call for federal legalization waivers, and the US Supreme Courts refusal to hear a legalization case from Ohio.

DEA Faces Lawsuit Pertaining To Denied Rescheduling Requests

Yet again, the DEA is facing a lawsuit as a result of its cannabis policies. 

Last week, the research group SRI filed a suit against the federal agency. The suit accused the DEA of operating in accordance with “secret” government documents. 

Now, the DEA faces a suit from veteran and research groups over their refusal to reassess cannabis’ federal scheduling status. Specifically, the suit refers to requests for reassessment in 2020, 2016, and 1992. All three times, the agency denied these requests, citing their adherence to the Controlled Substances Act. 

Filers of the current suit believe that the DEA’s scheduling of cannabis results from a misinterpretation of federal law. They also believe that the DEA is relying on policies and standards that are unconstitutional. 

Matt Zorn, an attorney for SRI, says the recent lawsuits aimed at the DEA represent a desire for cannabis research. 

“The reason we’re filing […] is because, ultimately, the research has been impeded,” Zorn says. “We’re trying to get the administration to remove those roadblocks.” 

According to Zorn, such attempts to reschedule cannabis will continue in the long term. “The ideal result is that we stop filing lawsuits and the administration decides it wants to support cannabis research,” Zorn says. “But until that happens, we’ll be in the courts.”

New Research Connects Cannabis Legalization To Lower Opioid Prescriptions

According to Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, cannabis is proving to play a pivotal role in addressing the opioid crisis. 

In a recent study, IMC showed states with cannabis legalization experience up to 20% fewer opioid prescriptions than prohibition states. 

According to researchers, these figures reassert the importance of providing patients with alternative pain remedies outside of opioids. 

For years, opioids have ravaged the US, serving as a leading cause of injury-related death. Further, a majority of such deaths are the result of ingesting illicit prescription drugs. 

However, cannabis legalization affects individual states in different ways. Researchers attempted to pin down specific factors that may have played a role in lowering opioid prescriptions.

Certain factors, such as permission to cultivate at home, seem to play little role in the reduction. However, other factors, such as the capability of doctors to prescribe cannabis and the legal permission to operate cannabis store fronts, proved to play a positive role. 

While the research doesn’t constitute causality between cannabis legalization and opioid prescriptions, IMC claims it shows significant promise. 

Lawmakers And Police Officials Call For Federal Legalization Waivers

A task force with a membership of significant government names submitted a series of proposed criminal justice reform measures.

Among these proposed measures is a plan to issue federal waivers to all US states. Such waivers would allow states to enact cannabis legalization free of any federal interference. 

Many groups have proposed such measures in the past, but the membership of this task force carries significant weight. The task group, known as the Council on Criminal Justice, has members the likes of governors, attorneys general, and police chiefs. 

According to the task force, the federal government has an obligation to step aside in matters of state-level cannabis legalization. 

They claim that federal interference forces cannabis companies to “operate without consistent guardrails and guidance for testing, labeling, and marketing.” 

“The federal government must act to resolve this conflict and confusion, by creating an environment that respects sovereignty.” 

Supreme Court Denies Motion To Hear Case Regarding Ohio’s Refusal To Place Cannabis Measures On Ballots

On Tuesday, the US Supreme Court declined to hear a cannabis legalization case from Ohio. The case challenges the decision of Ohio officials to exclude citizen cannabis initiatives for cannabis legalization from election ballots. 

In 2018, the Portage County Board of Elections refused to approve submitted initiatives to decriminalize cannabis. According to the PCBE, the initiatives presented “administrative” issues that prevented them from appearing before voters. 

Groups behind the initiatives took the matter to a federal district court, claiming that Ohio’s decision was constitutionally unsound. Specifically, they claim the decision violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. 

The federal district judge agreed, placing a permanent injunction against the PCBE and secretary of state. However, the decision was quickly overruled by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. They claimed that preventing measures from appearing on a ballot was Ohio’s prerogative and vacated the injunction. 

Following this, filers of the initial suit turned to the US Supreme Court to weigh in on the case. While the impact of this refusal is not yet known, there is concern that the decision will establish a precedent that allows counties in Ohio to prevent all types of measures from appearing before voters. 

Coronavirus Updates In The United States

As COVID-19 continues its spread throughout the US, we will provide you with updates to keep you up to speed. We will continue to include these updates at the end of This Week In Weed until further notice. 

Confirmed COVID-19 CASES In United States (As Of May 24, 2020): 1,836,793

Confirmed COVID-19 DEATHS In United States (As Of May 24, 2020): 106,176