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ACLU of Nevada Sues Board for Classifying Cannabis Under Schedule 1

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nevada isn’t accepting the Nevada Board of Pharmacy’s classification of cannabis: Despite legal cannabis for adults 21 and over in Nevada, the Board of Pharmacy continues to list cannabis as a schedule 1 substance—having no medical value.

The legal battle ensued. It began earlier in the year when the ACLU of Nevada sued the Cannabis Equity Inclusion Community, (CEIC), and Antoine Poole. This is the case. CEIC v. Nevada Board of Pharmacy, was first filed last April in Clark County court—saying the classification of cannabis defies the Nevada Constitution.

CEIC, a non-profit organization, focuses on policies to make the War on Drugs more real and accessible for all communities. Poole was convicted of felony possession of a controlled substance for possessing cannabis—AfterBoth recreational and medical uses were legalized.

West Juhl is Director of Communications and Campaigns for the ACLU of Nevada, and believes the Board’s classification of cannabis is incongruent with the Nevada Constitution.

“It’s wrong as a matter of law, because our state Constitution specifically names a number of medical uses for cannabis,” Juhl told Chronic News. “The district court’s ruling was very clear in confirming this. I think it’s also wrong as a matter of commonsense. The people of Nevada have made it very clear that we want to regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol and to move away from old, obsolete ideas about marijuana from the failed War on Drugs.”

In Nevada, the discord between the state’s Constitution and the Board’s policy mirrors the general discord between state and federal law in states with legal cannabis.

ACLU of Nevada Lawsuit is Submitted to the Appeal Court

Following its momentum, it was met with resistance. Clark County District Court Judge Joe Hardy agreed with the ACLU of Nevada’s ruling last November that cannabis was not classified as a Schedule 1 drug in Nevada. The Nevada Board of Pharmacy appealed this District Court ruling soon after. 

The ACLU of Nevada stood firm despite the appeals process. “Despite Nevada voters’ approval of laws to legalize cannabis possession for medical and recreational use in 1998 and 2016, respectively, the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy has failed to honor the Nevada Constitution, Nevada Revised Statutes, and the will of Nevada voters,” the ACLU Nevada said in a press release.

“The idea that the Board of Pharmacy is fighting this, I think is legally ridiculous. There is no basis for it,” Matthew Hoffmann, Partner at Battle Born Injury Lawyers, told FOX5, explaining that the Nevada Constitution was amended in 1998—explicitly stating that cannabis has medical purposes.

Placing cannabis on schedule 1—as the federal government does—essentially means that the Board believes cannabis has more risk than fentanyl and other schedule II drugs. Hoffman stated that federal classification does not affect the actions of state agencies.

“It has been a loophole that has been leading to criminal arrests and convictions over the course of the last two decades,” Athar Haseebullah, Executive Director of the ACLU of Nevada, told FOX5. “Fentanyl is listed as a schedule 2 substance, methamphetamine and cocaine are listed as schedule 2 substances because according to the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy, cannabis appears to be of more risk than those substances,” Haseebullah said.

Multiple States ACLU Chapters

In 2019, the ACLU of Pennsylvania sued Pennsylvania’s Lebanon County to allow parolees and probationers to consume cannabis. Lebanon County, in spite of legalizing medical cannabis within the state, initially chose not to follow state law.

Also in 2019, the ACLU of Arizona targeted the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. ACLU of Arizona sent Bill Montgomery a request to stop his office from prosecuting patients who use medical cannabis. Montgomery was also asked by the ACLU to stop making threats against patients. Montgomery previously prosecuted and threatened medical marijuana patients licensed by the state for selling their cannabis products to dispensaries. 

ACLU of Nevada’s lawsuit against the Nevada Board of Pharmacy remains ongoing.