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ACLU Of Nevada Gets Blunt: Schedule 1 Listing For Cannabis Is Unconstitutional

The move comes as the Nevada Board of Pharmacy has cannabis as Schedule 1

State law — and the will of Nevada voters — is clear that cannabis is legal to possess and use for medicinal and recreational purposes. Yet state agencies, including the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy, continue to list it as a Schedule I substance alongside meth, heroin, and cocaine.

Instead of treating cannabis like alcohol and removing it from the state’s list of controlled substances, Nevada is ignoring its state Constitution and the will of the people. The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada Foundation on Friday filed a writ with the intent of finally ending the practice. The case, CEIC v. Nevada Board of Pharmacy, was filed in Clark County court.

For cannabis to be classified as a Schedule I substance, the Board of Pharmacy must find that is has no accepted medical use in treatment or it cannot be safely distributed to the public. However, the Nevada Constitution explicitly allows for the “use by a patient, upon the advice of his physician, of a plant of the genus Cannabis for the treatment or alleviation of cancer, glaucoma, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome… or other chronic or debilitating medical conditions”. 

The ACLU of Nevada is representing the Cannabis Equity and Inclusion Community, a nonprofit organization focused on civic engagement and policies that will make opportunities real and attainable for communities and people that were disenfranchised by the failed drug war, and an individual who was convicted of felony possession of a controlled substance for possessing marijuana after it was legalized both for medical and recreational uses.

ACLU of Nevada Attorney Sadmira Ramic said:

“Police departments and district attorneys in Nevada have wasted an immense amount of taxpayer dollars by seeking criminal convictions and penalties for small-time cannabis possession. Despite Nevada voters’ explicit desire to have cannabis treated like alcohol, it is readily apparent that they are treated very differently. The failure to remove cannabis as a Schedule I substance not only goes against voters’ will, but it violates the Nevada Constitution which unequivocally recognizes cannabis’s medical value.” 

Cannabis Equity and Inclusion Community Founder A’Esha Goins said:

“We’re consistently fighting for policy changes that will ensure freedom for Black and Latinx people that choose cannabis as a treatment. It’s disheartening that we are four years after legalization and we’re still dealing with policies that can derail people’s lives over cannabis possession. The classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance must be stopped.”  

HISTORY OF CANNABIS DECRIMINALIZATION IN NEVADA

For decades, the failed War on Drugs harmed our communities, but Nevadans have taken significant steps to decriminalize cannabis for medical and recreational uses. 

In 2000, Nevada voters ratified an amendment to the Nevada Constitution to legalize cannabis for medical use. The amendment specifically recognized the medical value of cannabis. 

In 2016, Nevadans voted to legalize possession of cannabis for recreational purposes. The law was passed because people no longer wanted resources to be used in prosecuting cannabis offenses and wanted it to be regulated in the same manner as alcohol.

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