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Legal References
488 FEDERAL SUPPLEMENT 123

The NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR
The REFORM OF MARIJUANA LAWS
(NORML), et al., Plaintiffs,

v.

Griffin B. BELL, et al., Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 1897-73.

United States District Court,
District of Columbia.

Feb. 11, 1980.

        Organization brought action challenging provisions of the Controlled Substances Act prohibiting the private possession and use of marijuana.  The Three-Judge District Court, Tamm, Circuit Judge, held that: (1) the prohibition of the private possession and use of marijuana did not violate the constitutional right of privacy in one's home, since smoking marijuana does not qualify as a fundamental right; (2) the exclusion of alcohol and tobacco from the Controlled Substances Act does not render the Act unconstitutional; (3) even assuming that marijuana does not fall within a literal reading of the statutory criteria for Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act, the classification of marijuana under Schedule I was rational, since placing marijuana in Schedule I furthered the regulatory purposes of Congress, and since the statutory criteria are guides in determining the schedule to which a drug belongs, but they are not dispositive; and (4) statutory penalties of one-year imprisonment and $5,000 fine for possession of marijuana did not violate the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
        Order accordingly.

1.  Constitutional Law 82(7)
      The right of privacy exists only in conjunction with specific constitutional guarantees that serve as substantive bases for the privacy rights.

2.  Constitutional Law 82(1)
      In ascertaining whether a right is fundamental, court must determine whether the right is explicitly or implicitly guaranteed by the Constitution.

3.  Constitutional Law 82(7)
      The prohibition of the private possession and use of marijuana did not violate the constitutional right of privacy in one's home, since smoking marijuana does not qualify as a fundamental right.

4.  Constitutional Law 253.2(2)
      The due process clause of the Fifth Amendment requires that federal legislation satisfy the same standards of equal protection of law that are guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.  U.S.C.A. Const. Amends. 5, 14.

5.  Constitutional Law 213.1(2)
      Legislation that does not affect a "fundamental" right or a "suspect" class need only bear a rational relationship to legitimate state interest, and such standard of judicial review gives legislature wide discretion and permits them to attack problems in any rational manner.   U.S.C.A. Const. Amends. 5, 14.

6.  Constitutional Law 213.1(2)
      Classification which does not affect fundamental right or a suspect class will be upheld unless the varying treatment of different groups or persons is so unrelated to the achievement of any combination of legitimate purposes that court can only conclude that legislature's actions were irrational.  U.S.C.A. Const. Amends. 5, 14.

7.  Constitutional Law 250.1(2)
     Drugs and Narcotics 43
        The inclusion of marijuana as a controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act is rational and does not violate equal protection, in view of the continuing debate as to whether marijuana has substantial detrimental effect.  Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, 101-1016 as amended 21 U.S.C.A. 801-966; U.S.C.A. Const. Amends. 5, 14.

8.  Constitutional Law 211(2)
      To be successful in an equal protection challenge based on underinclusiveness, plaintiff must show that governmental choice is clearly wrong, a display of arbitrary power, not an exercise of judgment.  U.S.C.A. Const. Amends. 5, 14.

9.  Constitutional Law 211(2)
      Failure to address a certain problem in an otherwise comprehensive legislative scheme is not fatal to the legislative plan.   U.S.C.A.Const. Amends. 5, 14.

10.  Drugs and Narcotics 43
      The exclusion of alcohol and tobacco from the Controlled Substances Act does not render the Act unconstitutional.   Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, 101-1016 as amended 21 U.S.C.A. 801-966; U.S.C.A. Const. Amends. 5, 14.

11.  Constitutional Law 250.3(1)
      The "rational basis" test governs a challenge to the relative severity of penalties under the Controlled Substances Act.   Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, 101-1016 as amended 21 U.S.C.A. 801-966; U.S.C.A. Const. Amends. 5, 14.

12.  Drugs and Narcotics 133
      When deciding on penalties, Congress need not consider only the potential harm from a drug; it may also consider the magnitude of social problems, the deterrent effect of a particular penalty, and any special regulatory problems involved with a penalty scheme.

13.  Drugs and Narcotics 133
      In determining penalties, the legal classification of a drug does not have to match its medical classification, since Congress may consider other issues not involving a drug's medical properties; in addition, the penalties do not need to be graduated according to the potential harm of the drug.

14.  Constitutional Law 250.3(1)
      In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress did not act irrationally when it established the same penalties for possession of marijuana as for possessory offenses involving other controlled substances.   Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, 101-1016 as amended 21 U.S.C.A. 801-966; U.S.C.A. Const. Amends. 5, 14.

15.  Drugs and Narcotics 43
      Even assuming that marijuana does not fall within a literal reading of the statutory criteria for Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act, the classification of marijuana under Schedule I was rational, since placing marijuana in Schedule I furthered the regulatory purposes of Congress, and since the statutory criteria are guides in determining the schedule to which a drug belongs, but they are not dispositive.  Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, 101-709, 202(b)(1) as amended 21 U.S.C.A. 801-904, 812(b)(1); U.S.C.A. Const. Amends. 5, 14.

16.  Constitutional Law 47
      In ruling on a challenge to the severity of a criminal statute, court must compare the severity of the offense being punished and its sentence with punishment imposed for other crimes in the jurisdiction and for the same crime in other jurisdictions; in evaluating those factors, court must consider evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.

17.  Criminal Law 1213
      Statutory penalties of one-year imprisonment and a $5,000 fine for possession of marijuana did not violate the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  U.S.C.A. Const. Amend. 8.

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