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420 with CNW — DOJ Wants Federal Court to Throw Out Case on Overdose Prevention Sites

Cannabis News Wire, Media Partners

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The Biden administration has consistently expressed its commitment to approaching the overdose crisis through harm-reduction measures. One key aspect that advocates have been closely monitoring is whether this approach would extend to the authorization of safe consumption sites, where individuals can use illicit substances under medical supervision.

However, activists received disappointing news as the Justice Department has decided to reject legal arguments advocating for possible exceptions to the federal ban on such facilities. Subsequently, they are seeking to dismiss a long-standing lawsuit that could have enabled the opening of a safe drug consumption facility in Philadelphia known as Safehouse, which had been blocked during the Trump administration.

Throughout the legal challenge, the Justice Department’s stance remained uncertain. Some indications suggested they might yield the case, allowing the harm-reduction strategy to move forward. In response, Pennsylvania lawmakers initiated efforts to implement a statewide ban on harm-reduction centers, successfully passing a bipartisan bill in the Senate in May 2023.

Even some legislators who support cannabis legalization have urged the federal court to prevent Safehouse from opening, and they sought permission to file a brief in the case. Additionally, a coalition of 20 Pennsylvania community groups also sought to intervene in the lawsuit.

However, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied these requests, as the government was unequivocally defending the existing statute and opposing overdose prevention sites.

The Justice Department, in its motion to dismiss the case, countered Safehouse’s legal arguments that it should be exempt from CSA enforcement due to religious freedom laws. The DOJ emphasized that Safehouse is not a religious organization.

Safehouse now has until Aug. 15, 2023, to present any opposing briefs to the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss; the DOJ will respond to these arguments by September 8.

Frank James, a Safehouse board member and a retired president of Missio Seminary, expressed deep disappointment in the government’s stance. He conveyed that the organization feels hindered from following its strongly held religious convictions, especially as the overdose death rate continues to rise.

Initially, the DOJ declined to provide its position on the harm-reduction issue, requesting more time to respond to the complexities of the case. Last year, it mentioned evaluating possible guardrails for safe consumption sites.

In January, the DOJ and Safehouse agreed to transfer the case to mediation before a magistrate judge, raising hopes for a potential resolution. However, it is now evident that the department remains steadfast in its opposition to the case.

It now looks like entities SUCH AS IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) may be the ones to play a major role in bringing about significant drug reform by commercializing marijuana treatments that pass FDA scrutiny. In this way, the notion that marijuana is a dangerous substance could be reexamined and policy reforms effected federally.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/IGC

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