Efforts to legalize marijuana nationally suffered a defeat in court yesterday when a federal judge upheld the constitutionality of a 1970 federal law that classifies cannabis as a dangerous drug akin to LSD and heroin. the Los Angeles Times reports. U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller said she could not lightly overturn a law passed by Congress. Mueller had held an extensive fact-finding hearing, raising the hopes of activists seeking to legalize marijuana and worrying opponents who consider the drug a threat to health and public safety. The hearing marked the first time in decades that a judge was willing to examine the classification of marijuana under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.
The Schedule 1 classification is for drugs that have no medicinal purpose, are unsafe even under medical supervision and contain a high potential for abuse. In addition to marijuana, heroin and LSD, other Schedule 1 drugs include Ecstasy and mescaline. Mueller, an Obama appointee, announced her decision before issuing a written ruling. She considered the constitutionality of the classification in response to a pretrial motion brought by lawyers defending accused marijuana growers. “At some point in time, a court may decide this status to be unconstitutional,” Mueller said. “But this is not the court and not the time.” Dale Gieringer of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said Mueller's decision could not be appealed until after the criminal case against the growers was resolved. A trial is not expected until late this year or early next year.