Federal Judge Dismisses Former NFL Player’s Marijuana Decriminalization Suit

3-indest-2009-2By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On February 26, 2018, a New York federal judge dismissed a former NFL star’s suit demanding decriminalization of medical marijuana. U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said the Second Circuit has already determined that Congress had a rational basis to classify marijuana as a Schedule I drug.

Schedule I drugs are those drugs that allegedly have no known currently accepted medicinal use and have a high potential for abuse. Marijuana is right up there with LSD and heroin (15,466 heroin overdose deaths in 2016).

The Fight to Decriminalize Marijuana.

The suit brought by Super Bowl winner and now weed entrepreneur Marvin Washington and others, seeks to challenge aspects of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) through the court when remedies are available through federal agencies, like the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Along with Washington, the action was brought on behalf of two young children, an American military veteran and the Cannabis Cultural Association organization, all of whom have suffered harm and are continuously threatened, by reason of the provisions of the CSA.

Washington, a former Jets football player, is hoping to force the hand of Congress and the White House by arguing that current federal policy is unconstitutional given marijuana’s health benefits. The complaint filed in September of 2017, argued the 1970 federal law classifying marijuana as a dangerous drug violates patients’ rights.
Click here to read the complaint in full.

At a hearing in early February 2018, Judge Hellerstein did acknowledge that marijuana’s health benefits are beyond question, but also warned Washington and the advocates that the district court was not an appropriate forum for the suit.

In his new ruling, he dismissed the suit because the Second Circuit found, in its 1973 United States v. Kiffer decision, that the Controlled Substances Act is constitutional.

Additional Ammo.

Judge Hellerstein said it’s clear that Congress had a rational basis for classifying marijuana in Schedule I, and executive officials in different administrations have consistently retained its placement there. In an example, he said the DEA’s most recent denial of a petition to reclassify marijuana listed a number of public health and safety justifications for keeping marijuana in Schedule I.

To read the judge’s order in full, click here.

To learn more about the status of marijuana, click here to read one of my prior blogs and be sure to check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly for updates.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

The Hypocrisy of Marijuana Prohibition Must End.

One must ask when people who are supposed to be rationale are going to demand an end to this marijuana abuse hypocrisy. One day our children we will look back on this century of prohibition and scratch our heads and ask “Why?” just as we currently do for the alcohol prohibition of the 1920′ and 1930s. All it would take is an administrative agency decision to move marijuana form a Schedule 1 to a different schedule and all the current criminal law problems would go away.

Does marijuana have an accepted medical use? There are many cancer victims who think so. There are many doctors who are writing orders for medical marijuana in states where it is legal who think so. It is known to be a relaxant, to depress pain, to encourage sleep and to stimulate appetite (or so I am told).

As far as it having a high potential for abuse, is it as high as cigarettes? As high as sodas containing caffeine and sugar? As high as chewing gum?

And how many deaths each year are attributable to marijuana overdoses? In 2015 there were zero. Probably more people choked on chewing gum overdoses. Compare this to legal, prescription opiods and other similar drugs–over 19,000 deaths in 2015. Legal alcohol, available without a prescription–over 30,000 in 2015. [I apologize because I do not have more rent statistics.] And yet marijuana is somehow seen as a villain? If anything, cigarettes and tobacco products should be placed on Schedule 1. Again, one day our children will look back and, as many countries have done already, say “what a crock of s**t that was.”


Simpson, Dave. “Ex-Jets Player Loses Pot Decriminalization Suit.” Law360. (February 27, 2018). Web.

Brush, Pete. “Ex-NFLer’s Pot Decriminalization Suit Hits Possible Snag.” Law360. (February 27, 2018). Web.

Bellware, Kim. “Here’s How Many People Fatally Overdosed On Marijuana Last Year.” (12/28/15)

Welch, Ashley. “Drug Overdoses Killed More Americans Last Year than the Viet Nam War.” (Oct. 17, 2017)

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, Controlled Substances Act (CSA) , U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) investigation representation, legal representation for DEA matters, DEA investigation defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.



Arizona Appeals Court Affirms Dentist’s Suspension Over Questionable Prescriptions

1 Indest-2008-1By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 13, 2016, an Arizona appeals court affirmed the suspension of a dentist who allegedly had a history of opioid addiction and who also allegedly wrote dozens of questionable prescriptions. The Arizona appeals court held that the state dental board didn’t violate his due process rights and had substantial evidence backing its decision that it wasn’t safe for him to practice.

The Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, concluded that the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners had acted within its authority by suspending Dr. Michael Wassef’s license to practice dentistry in the state. This was following Dr. Wassef’s refusal to submit to the dental board’s requests after it discovered evidence suggesting he had relapsed. The appeals court decision upheld a lower court’s decision affirming the dental board’s order.

History of Opioid Abuse?

Dr. Wassef’s possible relapse into opioid addiction reportedly first came to the attention of authorities in March 2014. This allegedly occurred when a pharmacist contacted the dental board to raise concerns about Dr. Wassef’s prescription-writing practices, according to the court’s decision. The board discovered that he had received prescriptions for controlled substances in increasing amounts over a six-year time period. Additionally, Dr. Wassef allegedly wrote 44 prescriptions in two years for the muscle relaxant Soma for his wife, his assistant and his assistant’s daughter, the opinion said.

After he tested positive for Soma and another medication, Dr. Wassef refused to submit to an assessment. As a result, the dental board issued an interim order that he obtain an inpatient substance-abuse evaluation, according to the opinion. He refused, and the dental board suspended his license in April 2014.

Arizona State Court Sides With Board.

Dr. Wassef contended that the board denied him due process by suspending his license without allowing him the opportunity to defend himself. Despite Wassef’s claims, the appeals court wasn’t swayed, explaining that the board didn’t have to give him a hearing before entering the interim order and can summarily suspend a licensee when it concludes.

The state board had more than enough evidence to conclude that Dr. Wassef was unsafe to practice dentistry, the appeals court panel held. “Under these circumstances, the board was not required to accept Dr. Wassef’s explanations and Dr. Wassef did not disprove the board’s suspicions,” the panel held. “Thus, the dental board had reasonable grounds to take emergency action to prevent harm to the public.”

To read the decision on this matter, click here.

To read more on the repercussions of choices such as this, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Serious Allegations Need Serious Legal Representation.

When a dentist, physician, nurse, psychologist, pharmacist, or other licensed health professional is accused of drug abuse or alcohol abuse, this is a very serious matter. As happened in this case, your license can be suspended putting you out of work and terminating your ability to pay for a legal defense.

Several things are a must. You must have good professional liability insurance that pays for the legal defense of complaints filed against your license, preferable with $50,000 or more of coverage for this type of event. Second, you must immediately retain experience health care legal counsel who deals with these types of cases routinely. Often there are options to such a harsh remedy as a suspension. Additionally, all the time spent from initial notification of the complaint, should be used in obtaining evidence to show that the dentist is not currently impaired. This can be routine random urinalysis testing, treatment with psychiatrist and certified addictions professionals, evaluation by special physicians health programs and other actions.

Usually, suspension is only appropriate when the physicians condition makes him an immediate threat to patient safety. Being able to prove that the physician is not a threat is te key to preventing a suspension. Also, using the time and money in appealing such a decision may, in may cases, be better used in requesting an emergency hearing and getting the evidence needed for that hearing.

Consult With An Attorney Experienced in the Representation of Dentists and Other Health Professionals.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents dentists, dental technicians, pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

The lawyers of The Health Law Firm are experienced in both formal and informal administrative hearings and in representing dentists and dental hygienists and other health professionals in investigations and at Board of dentistry hearings and other legal matters. Call now or visit our website www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


Posses, Shayna. “Ariz. Court Backs Dentist’s Suspension Over Dubious Scripts.” Law360. (December 13, 2016). Web.

“Arizona Court Backs Dentist’s Suspension.” Lexis Nexis. (December 13, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2016 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.