Ansell Grimm & Aaron files amicus brief to ask U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the ‘arbitrary and irrational classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug,’ preventing injured athletes and wounded veterans from accessing medical treatment for debilitating, life-threatening conditions.

OCEAN, N.J. (September 2020) – In a landmark appeal that could change U.S. drug policy forever, Ansell Grimm & Aaron has filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court demanding that the federal statute that criminalizes marijuana, the Controlled Substances Act, be declared unconstitutional.

Filed in the case ​Washington v. Barr, the brief represents the interests of injured pro football players, wounded military veterans, and mothers whose lives, quite literally, depend upon the outcome of the case.

“Patients today face an untenable choice,” said leading cannabis attorney Joshua S. Bauchner. “They can either risk federal prosecution for using medical cannabis in accordance with state and local laws at the advice of their doctors, or risk serious, even fatal, health consequences. This is an unacceptable trade off that no one should be forced to make any longer.”

Bauchner, the Honorable Anthony J. Mellaci, Jr. (ret.), and Rahool Patel, Ansell, Grimm & Aaron attorneys, represent five organizations with a vested interest in the outcome of the issue.

  • Athletes for CARE, a nonprofit organization founded by former professional athletes who are united in using their influence to advocate for research, education, and compassion in addressing vital health issues for the next generation of athletes, including the availability of medical cannabis.
  • After The Impact Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps military veterans and retired professional athletes receive customized treatment for unseen traumatic injuries from the field, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, and thoughts of suicide.
  • Canna Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on comprehensive and evidence-based epidemiological research of medical cannabis with the ultimate goal of providing better pain relief and improved quality of life for patients in need.
  • NFL Sisters in Service, Inc., a non-profit organization comprised of the spouses, daughters, and mothers of current and former NFL players who advocate on behalf of those players and their families. In particular, the Sisters have assisted dozens of players and their loved ones with disability-related issues arising from their time in the NFL, including but not limited to chronic traumatic encephalopathy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
  • ISIAH International, LLC, a holding company founded and wholly owned by former Detroit Pistons NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas that has interests in various companies, including two in the medical cannabis and hemp industries.

Each of these organizations has a strong interest in advocating for the legalization and decriminalization of cannabis for medical use. Many of their members have depended on medical cannabis to treat debilitating conditions and manage pain when other prescription medications or treatments have failed or resulted in unbearable side effects. They are far from alone. More than 3 million people in the United States require medical cannabis on a regular basis to manage chronic conditions, reduce debilitating pain, and, in some instances, to survive from one day to the next.

Former NHL star and four-time Stanley Cup winner Darren McCarty is one of them. The longtime Detroit Red Wings player credits cannabis with saving his life.

Injured after 17 years of professional hockey, McCarty was unable to use legal, medical cannabis to treat his debilitating pain. He relied on prescription drugs and alcohol, which, while having the benefit of being legal, wreaked their own havoc on his body. By November 2015, his doctor told him he was on the verge of multiple organ failure and at high risk of death if he did not significantly change his lifestyle. After stints in rehab, therapy, and substance abuse programs, McCarty was able to stop drinking after he found cannabis.

“Without cannabis, I would be dead, period,” said McCarty. “I suffered for so many years, and I know there are millions of people like me who are suffering in silence right now. We can end that suffering by educating ourselves and changing our laws to treat cannabis as what it rightfully is: essential medication that saves lives.”

Although 38 U.S. states and territories have legalized the use of cannabis for medical reasons, the federal government persists in classifying cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug with “no accepted medical use.” This means that people whose lives depend upon treatment with cannabis cannot legally enter onto federal land and cannot travel by air or other federally regulated modes of transportation. Worse, they live in constant fear that their lifesaving medication may be taken from them and that they will be arrested.

The continued failure of the DEA to take appropriate action to reschedule cannabis, and of Congress to mandate that the DEA do so by statute, has for decades deprived countless Americans of access to life-changing, and often life-saving, medical cannabis in violation of their constitutional rights.

“The decision to use cannabis for medical reasons is no less important than the decision to use common prescription drugs,” said Ansell, Grimm & Aaron’s Mellaci, a retired Superior Court Judge. “It is no less personal than the deeply intimate decision to refuse medical treatment for ethical or other reasons. My own son, Daniel, age 30, suffers from ALS and requires medical cannabis to have any quality of life. The federal government’s placement of cannabis in Schedule I would relegate him, and other patients, to a lifetime of suffering. It’s time to end that suffering.”

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