The continued classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug is now all up to Judge Kimberly Mueller.
The hearings have concluded, but the debate is still to come.
Although by now Judge Kimberly Mueller of the Eastern District of California has heard all of the expert testimony she will take to make her decision whether cannabis constitutionally belongs in Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act, she will not make her decision until both sides have had an opportunity to argue the question through exhaustive briefs, a process which could take more than two months. So far, a firm deadline for written arguments has not been set, but Judge Mueller scheduled a “status hearing” to follow up with the parties’ progress for November 19th at 9 am. If the parties haven’t hit any snags by that time, she will probably set a final deadline for briefings on that date.
What she may rule is anyone’s guess. She did a good job of keeping her poker face up throughout the length of the proceedings, and her rulings on evidentiary motions don’t reveal any clear pattern of bias toward one party or another. The only real evidence to go on is the fact that she agreed to hold these historic hearings at all; the constitutionality of cannabis’ Schedule I status has presumably been challenged many times in federal court, but Judge Mueller is the only federal Article III judge to take up the question — at least, as far as I’m aware (I asked Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, who said that he had heard there may have been other federal judges who looked at the question in the 1970s, but that he could never verify the claim).