Nevada ACLU lawsuit to remove cannabis from Schedule I drugs

Lucia Starbuck: Can you give an overview of that legal action the ACLU sued the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy?

Sadmira Ramic: Legally, we are suing them for failing to remove cannabis from it List of Schedule I substancesalthough we have legalized cannabis here, both leisure time and medical. We ask the court to do two things. First, to determine that designating cannabis as a Schedule I substance is unconstitutional, and second, to order the Board of Pharmacists to remove cannabis as a Schedule I substance.

Starbuck: What does it mean when a substance is listed as a Schedule I drug?

Ramik: So, before cannabis was legalizedthe legislature granted the Board of Pharmacy the Authority to plan substances, so does it give the board the power to review a substance and determine if that substance needs to be listed? And if so, does it need to be listed as Annex I, II, III, IV, V? In the case of List I substances, the board must determine that they have a high potential for abuse and that they have no medicinal value or that they cannot be safely distributed. So for cannabis, heroin, meth, All of those drugs that are currently considered Schedule I substances must make this determination.

Starbuck: What does the Nevada Constitution say about cannabis and do these two agree?

Ramic: So that’s the exact argument here, that they’re contradictory, so the committee’s findings contradict the Constitution; it is unconstitutional. So when cannabis was medically legalized it was through a referendumand that means people voted on it, and it led to this Constitution of Nevada will be changed. Nevada voters thought it was so important that cannabis be treated like alcohol, to recognize that it has medicinal value, that it’s available as a treatment for people with illnesses, that we got it enshrined in our constitution, that so it’s totally against what the board has defined and it has no medical value and it can’t be distributed safely. And prosecutors and police officers are using this loophole to charge people with cannabis possession.

Starbuck: Do you know how many people have been arrested and convicted for cannabis since recreational marijuana was legalized?

Ramic: I don’t have statistics on how many people have been arrested and charged. That’s something we might be working on. First of all, we know it’s happening because from our experience one of my colleagues who is also an attorney in this case was a public defender and he was able to see individuals, his clients, being prosecuted even after it was legalized.

One of the other reasons it was a bit difficult to gather this information, if we look at the way this is currently calculated, there is for sure Laws related to board planningwhen they criminalize certain behaviors. So, for example, you have property for sale, Schedule I substance, and this charge does not distinguish between meth, heroin, cannabis; They do not specify what drug it is. So it is difficult to collect data about it.

Starbuck: What are some of the consequences of being charged with possession of a Schedule I substance?

Ramic: Well, it’s a crime. You’ve got that on your record, you’re dealing with the aftermath of a crime. This can mean having less access to housing benefits, getting subsidies for school, for job applications. You know, employers look at your record, and having a crime on your record can affect your ability to get a job, so you have these side effects.

Starbuck: Can you tell us more about the person you are representing in this case?

Ramic: We represent two people: CEIC is an organization that we represent; it is Cannabis Equality and Inclusion Community. They stand up for underrepresented people and help them get involved in the cannabis market here in Nevada. Antoine Poole is our sole plaintiff and he has been indicted possession of a controlled substance. It affected him as an individual and it wasn’t meant to be. It is wrong for individuals to be treated this way. It is wrong of them to abuse this loophole and I think it needs to be closed and that is why we have brought this lawsuit.

Starbuck: Plaintiff Poole was arrested for possession approximately six months before recreational cannabis was legalized, but he was convicted several months after recreational cannabis was legalized, which Ramic said violates the state constitution.

The State Board of Pharmacy did not respond to KUNR’s request for comment, and the Nevada Attorney’s Office declined to comment due to pending litigation.

Lucia Starbuck is a Corps member for Report for Americaan initiative of GroundTruth Project.

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