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ACLU argues that Nevada pharmacy board’s scheduling of cannabis is unconstitutional

Apr 19, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

“Instead of treating cannabis like alcohol and removing it from the state’s list of controlled substances, Nevada is ignoring its state constitution and the will of the people”

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The Nevada arm of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is hoping a new challenge will get the state to stop treating cannabis like a controlled substance, which encourages unnecessary police enforcement, despite the legal status of weed.

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State law and voter input “is clear that cannabis is legal to possess and use for medicinal and recreational purposes,” notes information released this week by ACLU of Nevada. The group points out that state agencies, including the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy (NSBP), list cannabis as a Schedule I.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Schedule 1 drugs such as cannabis, methamphetamine, heroin and ecstasy have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

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“Instead of treating cannabis like alcohol and removing it from the state’s list of controlled substances, Nevada is ignoring its state constitution and the will of the people,” the ACLU statement contends. That being the case, the ACLU last week “filed a writ with the intent of finally ending the practice” in Clark County court.

The writ calls for compelling the NSBP to “remove cannabis and other cannabis derivatives” as Schedule 1 substances.

The writ argues the board’s failure to change scheduling fails to reflect the will of voters, the state constitution and Nevada’s revised statutes. The failure to amend the schedule “is necessarily a constitutional and statutory violation that can only be remedied by removing marijuana, cannabis and cannabis derivatives” from the Schedule 1 list, it adds.

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The writ relates to the case, CEIC (Cannabis Equity and Inclusion Community) v. Nevada Board of Pharmacy. A Nevada resident was convicted of a controlled substance-related offence after cannabis was legalized in the state and “continues to experience collateral consequences because of his conviction.”

For recreational cannabis in Nevada, there is no penalty for possessing up to 28 grams, or gifting, with no remuneration, as much as 28 grams of weed or a little less than four grams of concentrates.

That said possessing more than 28 grams of cannabis and possessing or using bud in public remains a misdemeanour offence, notes information from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

As for the sale or delivery of cannabis in the state, any amount exceeding 28 grams is a felony charge. While potential prison time and fines increase with the amount sold or delivered, the felony is punishable by at least one to four years in prison and a $6,300 fine for over 28 grams to 4.5 kilograms.

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The ACLU argues in the writ that Nevada’s treatment of cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance is at odds with the state’s own constitution and medical marijuana program.

Las Vegas Defence Group reports the program allows cardholders to possess 71 grams of weed for medicinal purposes. A card requires a licensed physician to determine whether the patient suffers from a disease or condition included on the approved list.

ACLU notes the state constitution “explicitly allows for the ‘use by a patient, upon the advice of his physician, of a plant of the genus Cannabis for the treatment or alleviation of cancer, glaucoma, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome … or other chronic or debilitating medical conditions.”

The ACLU argues that treating cannabis as a controlled substance rather than like alcohol has proved wasteful.

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“Police departments and district attorneys in Nevada have wasted an immense amount of taxpayer dollars by seeking criminal convictions and penalties for small-time cannabis possession,” ACLU of Nevada attorney Sadmira Ramic maintains in the group statement.

Failing to remove cannabis from the Schedule 1 substances “will cause irreparable injury to petitioners because CEIC must continue to expend its resources on preventing and/or remedying such efforts, and Mr. Poole continues to suffer the consequences of a cannabis-related conviction,” the writ reads.

According to Marijuana Moment, it is alleged police have exploited the existing legal “loophole” despite the state constitution recognizing marijuana’s medical value and the legality of recreational cannabis.

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Police are “actually charging people with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell even if it is marijuana,” Ramic is quoted as reporting.

The “loopholes” related to scheduling perpetuate “the same issue that we had when there was a war on marijuana going on” in the state pre-legalization, she told the publication.

“We’re consistently fighting for policy changes that will ensure freedom for Black and Latinx people that choose cannabis as a treatment,” CEIC founder A’Esha Goins says in the ACLU statement.

“It’s disheartening that we are four years after legalization and we’re still dealing with policies that can derail people’s lives over cannabis possession,” Goins adds.

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