NEW YORK (AP) – A judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit challenging federal laws criminalizing marijuana as unconstitutional, saying the five plaintiffs had failed to pursue changes in the drug’s legal status by first going through the Drug Enforcement Administration.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein did not address the plaintiffs claim that marijuana has medical benefits, but said the DEA has the authority to make that decision and not the courts.
The plaintiffs included former NFL player Marvin Washington, the co-founder of a company that sells hemp-based sports products, Army veteran Jose Belen, who said the horrors of the Iraq War left him with post-traumatic stress disorder, and two young children who use marijuana to treat medical conditions.
Michael Hiller, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said they would appeal the decision.
“Resigning the plaintiffs to the petitioning administrative process is tantamount to a death sentence for those patients who need cannabis to live,” said Hiller, who had earlier argued that the administrative process takes an average of nine years.
In a statement, Belen called the ruling disappointing, “but just the