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Federal Judge's Ruling Could Affect Marijuana's Classification As Schedule 1 Drug

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A decision by a federal judge makes in a criminal marijuana case could soon provide another step towards legitimizing and even legalizing pot.

Marijuana is considered the same as heroin and cocaine under federal law. For decades, advocates have fought to separate marijuana from other dangerous drugs. But this is the first time criminal defense lawyers have gotten this far in fixing what many call a double standard.

For five decades, the law has classified pot as a Schedule 1 drug that has no medical benefits. It's the same level as heroin, LSD and cocaine.

Now, Sacramento federal judge Kimberly Mueller is weighing the constitutionality.

The decision to re-examine the classification comes after a recent criminal case where attorneys for alleged marijuana growers argued the government enforces marijuana law unevenly, which violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.

"Knowing Judge Mueller it will probably be an extremely thorough hearing and it will probably reveal that the governments position on refusing to reschedule marijuana is irrational," said McGeorge Law professor Michael Vitiello.

He says the defense could have a tough time proving current law infringes on people's rights.

"Whether it will provide a full basis for a defense for these defendants is another more difficult question," he said.

Mueller's ruling is expected later this year and would apply to this specific case. It could ultimately go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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