Press Release September 17, 2020

Americans for Safe Access Files Amicus Brief to Highlight Plight of Medical Cannabis Patients

A Goodwin Pro Bono team of Cannabis and Appellate Litigation lawyers filed an amicus brief on behalf of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) in support of the petition for certiorari filed in the matter of Washington v. Barr. The amicus brief highlights the plight of medical patients who face numerous restrictions in accessing and using medical cannabis. 
 
The case was brought on behalf of five plaintiffs, including 14-year-old legalization activist Alexis Bortell, Iraq War Veteran Jose Belen, and nine-year old Jagger Cotte — three plaintiffs whose treatment with cannabis keeps them alive. Alexis, Jagger and Specialist Belen, must carry their medical cannabis with them at all times, and therefore cannot legally enter onto federal land and cannot travel by air or other federally-regulated modes of transportation. Alexis has also been limited in terms of which schools she can attend; she is required to travel 90 minutes a day to and from her high school, as no local school will accept her due to her need to treat with medical cannabis. She also was the only student in her middle school class who was ineligible to sign up for a planned class trip to Washington, DC this past spring; because it would be illegal for her to step foot onto federal property, Alexis just couldn’t go. Worse Alexis, Jagger, and Specialist Belen all live in constant fear that their medication may someday be taken from them and that they (or, in the cases of Alexis and Jagger, their parents) will be arrested.
 
The legal premise for the lawsuit is that the classification of cannabis under the CSA as a Schedule I drug is unconstitutionally irrational and violates plaintiffs’ fundamental rights to equal protection under the law, substantive due process and to preserve their health and lives through treatment with life-saving medication. The nearly 100-page complaint points out that, in order to be classified a Schedule I drug under the CSA, a substance must be found to have no accepted medical applications, and be too dangerous to treat with — even under medical supervision. Yet, over 70% of U.S. jurisdictions have legalized cannabis for use in medical treatment, rendering the federal government’s position that there is no accepted medical use for cannabis in the U.S., according to plaintiffs, utterly irrational.
 
ASA is the leading medical cannabis advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research.
 
The Goodwin team was led by Brett Schuman, Jennifer Fisher, Andrew Kim, and Nick Costanza
 
For more details, read the press release