Nevada court ruling on cannabis could have implications for the entire industry

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Nevada can longer treat cannabis as a Schedule I drug, and other states may be forced to follow

In April, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nevada filed a lawsuit that could have precedent-setting influence at the federal level. Five months later, a Nevada judge ruled on the case, determining that the Nevada Board of Pharmacy can no longer list marijuana as a schedule one drug. It was undoubtedly a victory for the ACLU in its quest to have the plant seen in a different light.

The ACLU’s argument appears to have received the necessary support from US District Judge Joe Hardy Jr. midweek. The ACLU has consistently asserted that cannabis has an accepted medical use, especially since earlier this century, the state constitution was amended to allow the medical marijuana market to be approved.

That being the case, the judge ordered the Board of Pharmacy to no longer have marijuana included as a Schedule 1 drug. The timeline for such action is unclear at this time.

Even with the passage of the Nevada Medical Marijuana Act and the Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana, the original lawsuit alleged that the state, the Nevada Board of Pharmacy, was unable to comply with the will of Nevada voters, the state Constitution and revised statutes. While cannabis and its derivatives were supposed to be removed from the controlled substances, the board decided to continue to regulate them as Schedule 1 substances, just as it does hard drugs that do not have a medicinal effect.

ACLU of Nevada Legal Director Chris Peterson commented, “The ruling today that cannabis cannot be scheduled as a Schedule 1 substance by Nevada’s Board of Pharmacy without violating the Nevada Constitution reaffirms what the people of this state have known for decades, that marijuana has medicinal value and can be safely distributed to the public.” Although Judge Hardy agreed with the reclassification, he did not address the reversal of cannabis-related felony convictions as the issue was not addressed by the lawsuit.