Online Petition to Urge SCOTUS to Consider the Washington v. Barr Appeal on 10/9/2020

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We, the undersigned, urge the Supreme Court of the United States to agree to hear the appeal in Washington v. Barr -- a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal law criminalizing marijuana (medical and recreational). #SCOTUS will decide whether to grant the plaintiffs’ appeal this Friday, October 9th.

If the Court agrees to hear the plaintiffs’ appeal, it could pave the way to federal legalization of cannabis for the first time since 1970, providing relief to millions of Americans who treat with medical marijuana to maintain their health and lives. If the Court were to decline to hear the appeal, the case would be permanently dismissed, resigning another generation of medical marijuana patients, victims of the so-called War on Drugs, and the state-legal marijuana industry to another decade or more of legal uncertainty – an uncertainty created by what SCOTUS Justice Gorsuch, in 2015, described as the federal government’s “mixed messages” with respect to marijuana. Those mixed messages, which even Attorney General Barr referred to as “intolerable” during his recent testimony before Congress, make it impossible for the public to know what is legal and what isn’t. Indeed, although illegal under federal law, marijuana is legal in 38 states and territories, creating massive conflicts between state and federal laws. Americans have a fundamental constitutional right to clear and rational laws. In addition, the federal government's own positions have led to absurd internal contradictions. For example, Congress has “found” that marijuana has no accepted medical applications anywhere in the U.S. even though the federal government obtained its own medical marijuana patent in 1999 based upon what the federal government described as marijuana’s effectiveness in the treatment of disease.

As acknowledged by the District Court in this case, marijuana, notwithstanding its criminalization by Congress, constitutes an effective medication that saves lives. As acknowledged by three highranking members of the Nixon Administration (which wrote the law that criminalizes marijuana at the federal level), the only reason that marijuana was criminalized in 1970 was to incarcerate persons of color and deprive Americans of their constitutional rights; it had nothing to do with safety concerns or drug trafficking. Thus, the criminalization of cannabis constitutes nothing more than an anachronistic relic of America’s racist past, which is still being used as a modern-day pretext by law enforcement to harass and prosecute persons of color.

The appeal to the Supreme Court has received near unprecedented support from 19 organizations, plus two of the world’s leading cannabis scientists, and seven members of Congress. For those who suggest that Congress should be the branch of government that resolves the marijuana criminalization issue, seven members of the House of Representatives provided the answer in their amicus brief filed in support of the Washington v. Barr petition. In their brief, House Members confirm that, despite overwhelming popular and bipartisan support for ending federal marijuana prohibition, the passage of legalization legislation is a practical impossibility, ostensibly due to the entrenched interests of the pharmaceutical and tobacco industries. Further, the DEA will never de-schedule marijuana either; according to the DEA, a 1961 treaty requires that marijuana remain illegal – this, even though Canada and South Africa, both signatories of the same treaty, have legalized marijuana.

Without a legislative remedy in Congress or an administrative remedy before the DEA, the U.S. Supreme Court is the only avenue for relief from America’s racist anti-marijuana laws. And as for those who believe that state-legal marijuana programs can protect patients from the consequences of federal prohibition, consider that registered medical marijuana patients who treat with their medication in accordance with their doctors’ instructions, in full compliance with state law, can and still do lose their jobs, are refused admittance to local schools, are expelled from universities, and are even put in jail. Indeed, Iraq War Veteran Sean Worsley was recently sentenced to five years in prison for possession of his state-legal medical marijuana.

We, therefore, urge the Supreme Court to agree to hear the Washington v. Barr appeal and afford the plaintiffs in that case the opportunity to prove that the classification of marijuana violates the Constitution.