“The more corrupt the republic, the more numerous the laws.” ~Tacitus, Annals
Medical marijuana patients remain in limbo after an Iowa District Judge declined to acknowledge the language in Iowa Code Chapter 124 last week.
Judge Brad McCall, appointed to the bench last June by Governor Branstad, dismissed a lawsuit against the State of Iowa last week challenging the constitutionality of Schedule I. The lawsuit against the state, which named Dr. Alan Koslow, Bob Manke, and Ladd Huffman as Plaintiffs, attempted to have the court decide how 16 state laws affected Iowa’s Schedule I status:
Olsen petitions this Court to declare that marijuana has accepted medical use in treatment in the United States as a matter of law based on 16 state statutes defining marijuana as medicine and that the classification of marijuana as a schedule I substance in Iowa is no longer valid based on statutory requirement that anything in Iowa schedule I have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
In his ruling available here courtesy of IowaMedicalMarijuana.org, Judge McCall stated:
“Iowa’s statutory scheme related to controlled substances classifies substances into one of five different schedules. Schedule I controlled substances, by definitition, have a high potential for abuse and “no accpepted medical use in treatment in the United States”. Schedule II controlled substances, by definition, have high potential for abuse, “currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States”, and abuse of the substance may lead to severe psychic or physical dependence.”
“While most controlled substances appear on a single schedule, marijuana is identified as both a schedule I and a schedule II controlled substance. Iowa Code S124.204(3)(m) lists marijuana as a schedule I controlled substance “except as othwerwise provided by rules of the board for medicinal purposes.” Iowa Code S124.206(7)(a) identifies marijuana as a schedule II controlled substance “when used for medicinal purposes pursuant to rules of the board.” –Judge McCall’s ruling dismissing the lawsuit
Judge McCall’s ruling, which leaves contradictory language regarding marijuana in Iowa Code Chapter 124, will be challenged on appeal, said Carl Olsen, the lead plaintiff in the case. On appeal, Olsen plans to present the following question of law to the Iowa Supreme Court:
Whether the district court erred by failing to acknowledge the question presented to it for resolution, to wit:
Does the prohibition in Iowa Code 124.203 that nothing with accepted medical use in treatment in the United States can be included in Iowa Code 124.204 prevent the inclusion of marijuana which has accepted medical use in treatment in 16 States?
The court, just like the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, and the State of Iowa, treated this question as a matter of marijuana’s medical efficacy rather than a question of law as set forth in Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006).
While the District Court Judge failed to address the fact that sixteen states have defined marijuana as medicine, the Iowa Supreme Court will have the opportunity to correct the error of law. The last time the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on a case concerning “accepted medical use” was in 2005 medical necessity case in State of Iowa v. Lloyd Dean Bonjour, 694 N.W.2d 511 (Iowa 2005). Bonjour, an AIDS patient, did not challenge the Schedule I language of “accepted medical use in the United States” in Iowa Code Chapter 124 and lost his case despite a strong dissent from Justice Wiggins.
Bonjour’s case differs markedly from Olsen’s current case, as Bonjour did not challenge Schedule I’s constitutionality and rather chose to argue that marijuana had accepted medical use “in Iowa.” Olsen is arguing “accepted medical use in the United States” has happened based on 16 state laws defining marijuana as medicine. Olsen said of his case earlier today:
“It really doesn’t matter if Iowa classifies marijuana as having medical use in Iowa, no medical use in Iowa, or maybe might have some medical use in Iowa.
Marijuana does have accepted medical use in the United States and that’s what our Iowa law says. It doesn’t say “in Iowa.”” –Carl Olsen
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