Throughout this cannabis revolution, there have been many pivotal moments that awakened the people’s voice, but none so important as the hearing currently under deliberation. This is a very important time for the Marijuana Movement. This hearing will decide if cannabis should remain under the outrageous classification of Schedule I drugs or begin the transformation of marijuana perception within the minds of the American people.
A Schedule I classified drug requires a scientific and rational determination that it lacks any accepted medical value in the United States, has a high potential for abuse, and that there is no safe way for it to be administered. This rational determination is required to be made, according to the language of the Controlled Substance Act, which established the schedules, both “intrinsically and comparatively” meaning that each drug must be evaluated not only on its own merits but also in comparison to drugs in the same schedule as well as other schedules. The Government’s expert witness, Dr. Bertha Madras has the difficult job of explaining why cannabis belongs in the same category as heroin and LSD, but that cocaine (Schedule II) and crystal meth (Schedule III) should be less restricted. If Judge Kimberly Mueller finds that there is no rational basis for the continued placement of cannabis as schedule I, she will strike down the classification as unconstitutional.
The hearing began October 24th with Dr. Gregory Carter’s testimony that there is no rational basis to treat marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. The Government tried four times to vacate the matter immediately but Judge Kimberly J. Mueller’s said in court,
[quote]”If the Supreme Court had not dropped footnote 37 in the Raich case, I might not deny the motion.”[/quote]
The footnote stated: “We acknowledge that evidence proffered by respondents in this case regarding the effective medical uses for marijuana, if found credible after trial, would cast serious doubt on the accuracy of the findings that require marijuana to be listed in Schedule I….Respondents’ submission, if accepted, would place all homegrown medical substances beyond the reach of Congress’ regulatory jurisdiction.”
Government attorney Gregory Broderick began with questions of Dr. Carter’s substantial background. After a BS and a masters in physiology, Carter earned an MD and did his residency, plus a one-year research fellowship at UC Davis. He is currently medical director at St. Luke Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, WA. He holds several board certifications, such as the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, with a subspecialty in Neuromuscular Medicine. He is a fellow of the Association of Neuromuscular and Diagnostic Medicine, and the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine. Currently, he has a contract by the Washington Attorney General’s office to education physicians about cannabis.
Broderick asked many questions that were designed to prove the good doctor to be prejudice. Broderick wanted to know if Dr. Carter had recommended medical marijuana for his patients, and if so how often, and whether he issued warnings along with the recommendations. Broderick then asked, “Would you consider yourself a marijuana activist?” Carter answered, “No.” He was then asked, “Are you a member of NORML?” Carter responded that he was not, but added that he has worked with the group on some of their scientific pubs, and has respect for them. Broderick also asked whether or not Carter smoked marijuana himself. When defense attorney Zenia Gilg objected to the question, Broderick said it “goes to prejudice.” The judge overruled and Carter answered that he “went to college in California in the 70s” and smoked it then, but hadn’t in 25 years or more. He added, “If I had a disease like ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), I would.”
Broderick went on unsuccessfully intent on poking holes in Dr. Carter’s testimony. Broderick then asked a truly scientifically illiterate question, “Why call for clinical trials if you’re convinced it works?” ‘I’m still a scientist at heart and I like evidence,” Carter replied. “I’m always in favor of more research.” He pointed out that he has been trying to get a NIDA grant to study ALS in humans, building on animal studies. He said he gets 20-30 emails monthly asking why he is not doing clinical trials on cannabis for ALS.
The hearing continued on the 27th with the testimony of Dr. Carl Hart. Hart is an associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University and is known for his research in drug abuse and drug addiction. Broderick stumbled terribly while cross-examining Dr. Hart. Attempts to paint Hart as a researcher blinded by personal bias blew up embarrassingly in their faces. Broderick brought up some of Dr. Hart’s family history in such an attempt, asking about the legal troubles of his adult son and other members of his family, Broderick tried to insinuate that these troubles had spurred Dr. Hart on to some kind of personal mission to legalize drugs. “I’m a black man in America,” Dr. Hart replied. “You’d be hard pressed to find someone like me who isn’t closely connected to someone” who has been through the penal system.
Broderick continued to question Harts answers as his opinion, and Hart emphatically responded more than once, “It’s not my opinion, It’s what the evidence indicates.” Broderick’s attempt to discredit Hart’s credentials backfired even worse. At one point, the prosecutor asked why Hart was an expert in medical matters when he doesn’t hold an M.D. (Hart’s PhD is in neuropsychopharmacology). “I teach at Columbia’s medical school,” Hart replied. “I train doctors.” The Leaf
Following this exercise in humiliation, Broderick showed his lack of understanding even further when he brought up that the American Medical Association had released statements calling cannabis a “dangerous drug,” Hart replied: “Think about what you just said. The AMA committee reads research, such as what I conduct, to form their positions. So why would I go to them for their opinion?”
The day ended like it began, with the government struggling to defend a negative idea of cannabis, that they themselves did not even whole-heartedly believe in. More bizarre testimony and unexpected acceptance continues as the hearing goes on. More recap to come… Stay tuned.
Follow the change, be the change.