Before the federal judge in New York could decide whether or not the classification of pot as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act is a civil rights violation; the defendant charged in the case accepted a two-year prison term. The public defenders appointed to represent 58-year-old Randy Wade Kenyon following possession charges of more than 800 marijuana plants, filed a motion with the court stating the DEA’s Schedule I listing for cannabis violated Kenyon’s civil rights; as per the Bradford Era. The motion states this classification indicates the herb has “no medicinal value,” but according to state law, it clearly does.

“Especially irrational, however, is the government’s insistence that marijuana has no ‘currently accepted’ medical use,” the motion declared. “Such a position is simply unsustainable as demonstrated by numerous peer-reviewed studies, the recent passage of regulations by the New York Department of Health governing its medicinal use, the recent publication of an article in the Journal of American Medical Association noting marijuana’s efficacy compared to opioids and its widespread prescribed use of marijuana in states that have permitted the medicinal use of marijuana.”

Many of Kenyon’s illegal cultivation operations in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties were raided by a statewide weed eradication effort funded by the DEA In August. This caused Kenyon to be charged with a felony under federal law; putting him at risk of being sentenced up to 40 years in prison and fines reaching $500,000.

Even though medical cannabis is legal in New York, only companies with commercial licenses are permitted to cultivate it. As opposed to other legal states, NY patients are not permitted to grow weed at home; especially when hundreds of plants are concerned. Because of this the DEA keeps giving law enforcement agencies all over the state hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly “specifically” to track down illegal growing sites.

New York received $356,000 to cut down more than 11,000 marijuana plants, leading to the seizure of more than $1.6 million in assets, In 2015. Unfortunately, a plea agreement was accepted before the federal judge was forced to address the civil rights argument in Kenyon’s case. Kenyon will now live in a federal prison for the next couple of years. Ironically, no one has ever successfully argued the civil rights defense in connection to a federal cannabis crime. In fact, the Supreme Court has yet to even acknowledge the medical necessity defense.

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