A groundbreaking new lawsuit aims to force the feds to change their rules on cannabis.
A group of marijuana activists and patients sued the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Department of Justice on Tuesday, alleging that the federal government violates due process, along with the civil rights of African Americans, by continuing to implement what the suit characterizes as arbitrary and ill-intentioned pot laws.
Although almost every state now allows some form of recreational or medical marijuana use, the DEA still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug. That’s the highest classification, ostensibly reserved for only the most dangerous substances. The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in New York, argues the government can’t “merely…manufacture a supposedly ‘legitimate government interest’” to criminalize marijuana use. And the government is violating due process by doing so, according to the suit.
More explosively, the lawsuit also argues that the Nixon administration invented strict marijuana prohibition as a pretense to harass black people and that the government remains insincere about its reasons for criminalizing the drug. African Americans are almost four times more likely than white people to be arrested for pot crimes despite using pot at roughly the same rate, according to numerous studies, including a 2013 analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The Nixon Administration recognized that African Americans could not be arrested on racial grounds, and war protesters could not be prosecuted for opposing America’s involvement in Vietnam,” the five lawyers, who hail from three separate