President Obama with Supreme Court nominee Merrick B. Garland. (Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Is the President’s new Supreme Court nominee a friend to marijuana reform?
President Obama nominated centrist appeals court judge Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court Wednesday.
If confirmed, Garland would fill the seat left vacant by late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.
Per The New York Times:
The president said Judge Garland is “widely recognized not only as one of America’s sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence. These qualities and his long commitment to public service have earned him the respect and admiration from leaders from both sides of the aisle.”
Justice Scalia was no great friend to marijuana reform, despite his originalist interpretation of Constitutional liberties. But where does Judge Garland stand on marijuana policy reform?
Here’s what we know:
In 2012-2013, Garland was one of three judges who presided over a case brought forward by the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans For Safe Access, which sought to reschedule marijuana under the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Controlled Substances Act.
Marijuana is currently classified as aSchedule 1 drug, defined by the DEA as the most dangerous of all drugs, with no medical use and “potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”
Americans For Safe Access sought to reschedule marijuana so more research could be done on the medical benefits and potential medical applications for cannabis.
The DEA argued that not enough scientific evidence existed to justify rescheduling the drug.
This is a fairly hypocritical argument, because marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug is precisely what has prevented scientists from conducting comprehensive research on its potential medical uses.
In any case, a Justice Department lawyer told the three-judge panel the federal government was convinced marijuana is a dangerous drug, and the court ruled in favor of the DEA, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Per the L.A. Times:
“Don’t we have to defer to their judgment” on what the medical studies show? asked Judge Merrick Garland. “We’re not scientists. They are.”
Although Garland sided with the DEA in that case, some marijuana advocates see promise in his deference to scientific evidence.
Per VICE News:
Several marijuana advocates praised Garland on Wednesday as a sensible pick for the high court, arguing that his reliance on science is a positive for the industry.
SOURCE: network.suntimes.com, by EMILY GRAY BROSIOUS