NEW YORK (AP) — Army veteran Jose Belen says the horrors of the Iraq War left him with post-traumatic stress disorder, and the drug that helped him cope best with the symptoms was one his Veterans Affairs doctors could not legally prescribe: marijuana.

“Once I did use cannabis, immediately I felt the relief,” said Belen, who is now working with other medical marijuana users to mount a long-shot court challenge to federal laws criminalizing the drug.

The 35-year-old, married father of two is one of five plaintiffs in a lawsuit claiming that the government’s decision to classify marijuana as dangerous is irrational, unconstitutional and motivated by politics, not hard science.

A government lawyer argued Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in New York that the case should be dismissed, citing precedents in which judges upheld the constitutionality of existing marijuana laws.

The government also is arguing that the plaintiffs have not petitioned the Drug Enforcement Agency to reclassify marijuana.

Photo: Mark Lennihan, AP

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Iraq war veteran Jose Belen, who takes marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, poses in front of federal court, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in New York. Belen is one of five plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging federal marijuana laws. He is set to appear in a New York courtroom on Wednesday for arguments in a lawsuit that claims classifying marijuana as a dangerous drug is irrational and unconstitutional. less Iraq war veteran Jose Belen, who takes marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, poses in front of federal court, Tuesday,

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