TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that the state must reconsider marijuana’s legal classification because its health benefits are “abundantly and glaringly apparent.”
The appellate court ruled Tuesday that the former director of the Division of Consumer Affairs was wrong when he said he must defer to the federal government, NJ.com reports . Both the state and federal government call marijuana a “Schedule 1” substance, the most restrictive category. The classification includes drugs like heroin and others that don’t have an “accepted medical use.”
According to the court, the state must reevaluate marijuana’s classification because the drug is now legally used to treat a variety of ailments. The court said the medical benefits of pot weren’t known in 1971 when New Jersey first adopted the federal government’s classification.
“What this decision does recognize is the widespread acceptance of marijuana use in medical treatment,” attorney Joseph Linares said.
Linares petitioned the Division of Consumer Affairs to reclassify the drug in 2014 on behalf of his client, Steven Kadonsky. He said the change would reduce “inflated” prison terms for people like Kadonsky, who is serving a life sentence under the state’s “kingpin” statute.
Linares called the decision “an important incremental step” toward reclassification.
Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 2010.
The Attorney General’s Office plans to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.