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On Oct. 31, a two-judge majority of the Appellate Division decided that the director of the Division of Consumer Affairs erred in concluding that he did not have the authority to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I illegal substance to a Schedule IV substance beneficial in treating certain medical conditions. (Kadonsky v. Lee, Docket No. A-3324-14T4). The case involved an inmate who was serving a life sentence for marijuana trafficking as well as an amicus curiae who had been granted leave to appear in the matter on behalf of a minor who was taking medical marijuana as part of treatment for an epileptic condition. The amicus argued before the Appellate Division that the continued scheduling of marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic was arbitrary and capricious and that the vast amount of medical evidence supported the argument that the scheduling of medical marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic was based on outdated and antiquated information. We note that under both the federal and New Jersey statutes, a Schedule I controlled substance is deemed to have no accepted medical use, a high potential for abuse, and no method of use under medical supervision.

In support of his decision not to reclassify marijuana, the director pointed out that marijuana had been listed as a Schedule I substance in the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) since 1970 and that a New Jersey statute, N.J.S.A. 24:21-3(c) required that he classify marijuana in the same way as the federal act unless he “objects and follows the appropriate process to make the reasons for his objections public.” The director also concluded that there was no basis to believe that the New Jersey legislature intended to treat marijuana in a way similar to other substances listed in Schedules II-V under the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, N.J.S.A. 24:6I-1216. The Director also concluded that federal law prohibited the rescheduling of marijuana.

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