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Marijuana to stay Schedule I; patients could possess more

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Let's (not) reschedule

Last Tuesday (immediately after we had gone to press), news broke that Americans for Safe Access (safeaccessnow.org), and its Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis, suffered a major setback in its roughly 11-year-old campaign to change marijuana to a Schedule III, IV or V substance. A U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., ruled the federal Drug Enforcement Administration did not act in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner when it rejected ASA's request in 2011.

Some background: ASA first petitioned the DEA in 2002 to reschedule marijuana. Four years later, in 2006, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ruled there was no established, accepted medical use of the plant; finally, in 2011, the administration's rejection came.

Despite this drawn-out time frame, and the existence of several medical studies cited by the petitioners, the court was unmoved: "We will not disturb the decision of an agency that has 'examine[d] the relevant data and articulate[d] a satisfactory explanation for its action including a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made,'" went the majority opinion written by Judge Harry T. Edwards.

ASA was incensed, with chief counsel Joe Elford saying the group might appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"To deny that sufficient evidence is lacking on the medical efficacy of marijuana is to ignore a mountain of well-documented studies that conclude otherwise," said Elford in a press release.

The magic number

Along with all the other uncertainty following the debut of Amendment 64 (see here), comes the theory that a medical-marijuana patient could ostensibly combine the allowances given under 64 and Amendment 20 to increase the amount in his or her possession to three ounces.

Local defense attorney Clifton Black says he thinks that's pretty solid.

"My interpretation of the MMJ laws and of Amendment 64 is that an adult, 21 or older, is not prohibited from possessing 2 ounces for medical purposes (assuming they are a qualified patient) and 1 ounce for recreational purposes," he writes in an e-mail. He adds, however, that "as of right now, a police [officer] could charge somebody and then it would be up to the jury, or judge if a bench trial, to determine if the defendant was in violation of the law."

Revise and condense

The Denver Post reported Monday that the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division is seeking to slim down and simplify its rules. The division "has released a revised draft of one chunk of rules and plans to release more drafts by Friday," wrote John Ingold. "There is a stakeholder forum on the revised rules scheduled for Feb. 15 at the Jefferson County courthouse." The latter's located at 100 Jefferson County Pkwy. in Golden.

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