We are a midtown Manhattan law firm comprised of 6 lawyers, each a fierce advocate for the legalization of cannabis, among other counter-cultural causes. Many of our clients are investors and startups in the burgeoning cannabis industry. As discussed below, the lawsuit referenced above is brought on behalf of two sick children, two military veterans, a former NFL player and a non-profit organization, and is intended to benefit tens of millions of people throughout the United States and the world.
The expenses associated with this case are mainly legal fees, expert fees, and filing costs. We are suing Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions, the U.S. Department of Justice, Charles ("Chuck") Rosenberg, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, and the United States of America, regarding decades of failed drug policy. We are challenging the wrongful classification of Cannabis as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This will require extensive medical analysis, review of decades of social policy and lawmaking, the depositions of multiple governing officials, and submission of affidavits by expert witnesses. We will show that the mis-classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug is rooted in bigotry and efforts to suppress political opposition to the Vietnam War, as opposed to the government's false claims about the supposed "danger" of cannabis. This is the largest federal lawsuit ever regarding federal cannabis policy.
If we prevail, cannabis would be de-scheduled. This would have impacts all over the world, to the benefit of tens of millions of people.
The lawsuit is brought on behalf of a handful of very special individuals. Two of the plaintiffs, Alexis Bortell and Jagger Cotte, are young children who need legal access to cannabis as life-saving medication. Another plaintiff, Jose Belen, is a retired United States combat veteran who suffers with PTSD and is an advocate for treating PTSD with cannabis as a means to minimize, if not eliminate, the "22-a-day" statistic regarding veteran suicide. Another plaintiff, Marvin Washington, is a retired NFL player and Superbowl champion -- an African American -- who seeks to provide a pathway for minorities to obtain much-needed startup capital for cannabis businesses, through federal minority assistance programs, that would be available to them only if cannabis were to be legalized. Notably, less than 3% of cannabis businesses in the U.S. are owned by people of color. Also significant is that Washington seeks to reform drug policy as it pertains to NFL players -- he would like to open a plant-touching business that will mitigate, if not eliminate, opioid addiction and CTE among football players. Another plaintiff, the non-profit organization Cannabis Cultural Association, was founded for the purpose of fostering and encouraging inclusion and empowerment of people of color in the cannabis space. Some of its members have been arrested, convicted, and/or incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes under laws that disproportionately, and unconstitutionally, are enforced against people of color. More than 70% of cannabis arrests are of people of color, even though use of cannabis across races is generally equivalent. We are confident that the Court will declare that the CSA, as it pertains to cannabis, is so irrational that it is unconstitutional to enforce it.
We have already devoted hundreds of hours of legal time into preparing a lengthy federal Complaint and working with our plaintiffs. This case exposes governmental hypocrisies and pretexts for discrimination -- it will not be taken lightly. We expect that the government will seek to dismiss the case at the very beginning. There will be a hard-fought, drawn-out battle to first obtain our "day in court," which will be rife with extensive motion practice and the preparation of legal briefs. Nonetheless, our strategy is to proceed as expeditiously as possible, to obtain a judgment within 18 months.
When we survive the federal government's efforts to dismiss our case, we will proceed with "discovery," where we will have the opportunity to inspect all of the governments documents and information relating to the mis-classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug. We will also have to respond to discovery demands interposed by the government. There will likely be extensive motion practice regarding the scope of these demands, as the classification at issue occurred in the 1970s, and the Complaint refers to nearly 10,000 years of documented safe use of cannabis.
During this discovery period, we will proceed to the depositions of all parties. Among other things, we will have the opportunity to ask Jeff Sessions, who famously and falsely stated that "good people do not smoke marijuana," whether he deems the Country's forefathers, many of whom used and farmed hemp, to be "good people." We will also need to steadily defend our plaintiffs, who will be questioned by the government with respect to their use of cannabis and place in the cannabis industry.
Should the government persist in its untenable position throughout the lengthy discovery process, we will proceed to trial. Putting the federal government on trial for its disgraceful and inhumane cannabis policy is the right thing to do, and will vastly improve the lives of our clients and tens of millions of people like them.
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