U.S. judge won’t remove marijuana from most-dangerous drug list

In Oakland

A federal judge has upheld the constitutionality of a 1970 federal law that classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug akin to heroin.

Efforts to legalize marijuana suffered a defeat in court Wednesday when a judge upheld the constitutionality of a 1970 federal law that classifies cannabis as a dangerous drug akin to LSD and heroin. U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller, announcing her decision at a hearing in Sacramento, said she could not lightly overturn a law passed by Congress.

Mueller agreed last year to hold an extensive fact-finding hearing on the issue , raising the hopes of activists seeking to legalize marijuana and worrying opponents who consider the drug a threat to health and public safety. The hearing marked the first time in decades that a judge was willing to examine the classification of marijuana under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act.

The Schedule 1 classification is for drugs that have no medicinal purpose, are unsafe even under medical supervision and contain a high potential for abuse. In addition to marijuana, heroin and LSD, other Schedule 1 drugs include Ecstasy and mescaline.

Mueller, an Obama appointee, announced her decision before issuing a written ruling, which is still pending. She considered the constitutionality of the classification in response to a pretrial motion brought by lawyers defending accused marijuana growers.

“At some point in time, a court may decide this status to be unconstitutional,” Mueller was quoted as saying on leafonline.com, a pro-marijuana blog that has been covering the case. “But this is not the court and not the time.”