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Where SCOTUS Nominee Merrick Garland Stands on Cannabis

President Obama recently nominated federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Well-known within Washington legal circles, Garland is considered a moderate and is known for his dedication to upholding the Constitution. Many of those in the cannabis industry are cautiously optimistic for what a Garland appointment could mean for future marijuana legislation. President Barack Obama’s recent nomination of federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court has a number of members in the cannabis industry encouraged. Garland is known for “building consensus as a thoughtful, fair-minded judge who follows the rule of law,” President Obama has said. A previous ruling of Garland’s suggests he could be open to marijuana legalization. Garland currently stands as the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. However, before he joined the DC circuit, he was one of three judges tasked with overseeing a 2012 case to reschedule marijuana. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, which requires the strictest controls. At the time, Garland sided with the Drug Enforcement Administration, which was against rescheduling and lowering federal regulation of the substance. His reasoning, however, is what has cannabis industry members optimistic. “Don’t we have to defer to the agency?” Garland asked. “We’re not scientists. They are.” It doesn’t take much searching to find the science behind the medical benefits of cannabis. Recent groundbreaking research has demonstrated cannabis’ therapeutic potential for alleviating pain, nausea and spasms and for providing anti-inflammatory and healing effects for those with serious health conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes. It is Garland’s reliance on science that has several marijuana advocates subsequently praising him as a sensible pick for the high court. “We’re pleased with President Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” Derek Peterson, CEO of cannabis-focused agriculture company Terra Tech, said in a statement. “Mr. Garland appears to have broad respect for the medical cannabis community. It will be nice to have a voice that relies on the science rather than unfounded preconceived notions based on reefer madness and propaganda.” Jeffery M. Zucker, President of Denver-based consulting firm Green Lion Partners, also supports Garland and his willingness to consider science. “While we can’t say for certain how he will be on the Bench if his nomination is accepted, Garland appears to be a safe choice from the cannabis industry perspective,” he said in a statement. “Although he hasn’t been a champion of the issue, it’s good to know that he has an open mind to listen to the scientists that actually understand how the plant’s chemical compounds interact with the human body.” If appointed, Merrick would replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who was known as one of the most conservative justices of all time. Justice Scalia passed away earlier this year during a hunting trip, leaving his seat vacant. Things aren’t looking encouraging for Garland, however, as the Republican-majority U.S. Senate continues to refuse to hold a vote for any of President Obama’s nominations, claiming that the newly elected president should nominate the high-seat justice. Still, 53 percent of Americans think the U.S. Senate should hold a vote. There is also a small chance Senate Republican leaders will hold hearings to consider Garland, rather than leave the open chair on the Supreme Court empty for an entire year.. “Judge Garland’s ability to look past prohibition era rhetoric and focus in on listening to what the scientific community has been saying since Nixon’s days is a fantastic thing for our industry and for the patients who so desperately need safe access to their full plant based medicine,” said Kyle Sherman, CEO of Flowhub, a cannabis seed-to-sale software company. “It’s important that we don’t let politics get in the way of cannabis legalization and we focus in on the facts. Cannabis is a safe substance that the majority of Americans want legalized for adult use, I’m thankful that someone like Judge Garland is on the right side of history.” Regardless of who is ultimately chosen to fill Justice Scalia’s seat, our newest Supreme Court Justice is sure to have a deciding hand in the fate of legal marijuana as the popularity of cannabis continues to grow.]]>