U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller held five days of hearings regarding marijuana last year, maintaining the Schedule 1 classification of the drug. This classification is for drugs with no medicinal benefits and a high potential for abuse, such as LSD, ecstasy and heroin.
"At some point in time, a court may decide this status to be unconstitutional. But this is not the court and not the time."
-- Kimberly J. Mueller, Federal District Judge; Obama appointee
The Schedule 1 classification is a hard blow for advocates of medicinal marijuana because the classification federally restricts researchers to obtain legal cannabis for research. Using the plant to do research on its medical benefits will remain illegal in the eyes of the federal government. U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner said this in his prosecution of cannabis growers:
The question, "was not whether marijuana should be legalized for medical or recreational use, but whether decisions concerning the status of marijuana under federal law should properly be made in accordance with the science-based scheduling process set forth in the Controlled Substances Act passed by Congress."
Still, advocates remain hopeful. The silver lining is the fact that the judge took the time to conduct an extensive fact-finding hearing on the subject. And while this ruling is a blow to supporters of medicinal cannabis in the short-term, the steps leading up to–and through–such trials, regardless of their size, are still steps forward.