The Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that it will not further pursue its appeal from a decision of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court, on cannabis being a schedule I drug. The court ruled that the Division has authority to reevaluate how marijuana is classified under state law. Originally, the case was going to be appealed to the Supreme Court, but it is now determined that the state holds the power to make a new determination.
In a decision delivered by Judge Michael A. Guadagno, the court found that the Division Director does have the authority to reclassify marijuana without any change in federal law.
The medical benefits of marijuana weren’t recognized in 1971 when New Jersey first adopted the federal government’s classification of the drug, the court stated, but more recent scientific research suggests that marijuana has “potential therapeutic value” for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation, among other medicinal benefits.
Instead, the Division of Consumer Affairs will initiate a process for reviewing marijuana’s continued classification as a Schedule I substance in New Jersey. The Division intends to consider evidence of marijuana’s potential for abuse and accepted medical uses, among other things.
As part of its evidence-based decision-making process, the Division intends to solicit input from members of the public. Additional information about the process will be announced in the coming weeks.
This action comes on the heels of another decision challenging the status of cannabis as a schedule I drug by a group of individuals, including 12-year old Alexis Bortell. The judge in that case dismissed the case stating the plaintiffs needed to exhaust their administrative approaches. Hence, this decision by NJ to make the move to seek testimony to change the classification themselves.
The move by the Division also comes immediately following Governor Murphy announce the state ‘would proceed apace’ towards adult-use of cannabis in New Jersey.