Court Rules Against Pot for Sick People

  Court Rules Against Pot for Sick People

Posted by CN Staff on June 06, 2005 at 11:19:45 PT
By Gina Holland, Associated Press Writer 
Source: Associated Press 

Washington, D.C. -- Federal authorities may prosecute sick people whose doctors prescribe marijuana to ease pain, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, concluding that state laws don't protect users from a federal ban on the drug. The decision is a stinging defeat for marijuana advocates who had successfully pushed 10 states to allow the drug's use to treat various illnesses.
Justice John Paul Stevens, writing the 6-3 decision, said that Congress could change the law to allow medical use of marijuana. The closely watched case was an appeal by the Bush administration in a case involving two seriously ill California women who use marijuana. The court said the prosecution of pot users under the federal Controlled Substances Act was constitutional. "I'm going to have to be prepared to be arrested," said Diane Monson, one of the women involved in the case. Stevens said the court was not passing judgment on the potential medical benefits of marijuana, and he noted "the troubling facts" in the case. Monson's backyard crop of six marijuana plants was seized by federal agents in 2002, although the California law was on Monson's side. In a dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said that states should be allowed to set their own rules. Under the Constitution, Congress may pass laws regulating a state's economic activity so long as it involves "interstate commerce" that crosses state borders. The California marijuana in question was homegrown, distributed to patients without charge and without crossing state lines. "Our national medical system relies on proven scientific research, not popular opinion. To date, science and research have not determined that smoking marijuana is safe or effective," John Walters, director of National Drug Control Policy, said Monday. Stevens said there are other legal options for patients, "but perhaps even more important than these legal avenues is the democratic process, in which the voices of voters allied with these (California women) may one day be heard in the halls of Congress." California's medical marijuana law, passed by voters in 1996, allows people to grow, smoke or obtain marijuana for medical needs with a doctor's recommendation. Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state have laws similar to California. In those states, doctors generally can give written or oral recommendations on marijuana to patients with cancer, HIV and other serious illnesses. "The states' core police powers have always included authority to define criminal law and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens," said O'Connor, who was joined in her dissent by two other states' rights advocates: Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas. The legal question presented a dilemma for the court's conservatives, who have pushed to broaden states' rights in recent years. They earlier invalidated federal laws dealing with gun possession near schools and violence against women on the grounds the activity was too local to justify federal intrusion. O'Connor said she would have opposed California's medical marijuana law if she were a voter or a legislator. But she said the court was overreaching to endorse "making it a federal crime to grow small amounts of marijuana in one's own home for one's own medicinal use." Alan Hopper, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, said that local and state officers handle 99 percent of marijuana prosecutions and must still follow any state laws that protect patients. "This is probably not going to change a lot for individual medical marijuana patients," he said. The case concerned two Californians, Monson and Angel Raich. The two had sued then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, asking for a court order letting them smoke, grow or obtain marijuana without fear of arrest, home raids or other intrusion by federal authorities. Raich, an Oakland woman suffering from ailments including scoliosis, a brain tumor, chronic nausea, fatigue and pain, smokes marijuana every few hours. She said she was partly paralyzed until she started smoking pot. Monson, an accountant who lives near Oroville, Calif., has degenerative spine disease and grows her own marijuana plants in her backyard. In the court's main decision, Stevens raised concerns about abuse of marijuana laws. "Our cases have taught us that there are some unscrupulous physicians who overprescribe when it is sufficiently profitable to do so," he said. The case is Gonzales v. Raich, 03-1454. On the Net: The ruling in Gonzales v. Raich is available at: Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Gina Holland, Associated Press WriterPublished: June 6, 2005Copyright: 2005 The Associated Press Related Articles & Web Site:Angel Raich v. Ashcroft News Plaintiff To Defy Court Ruling Marijuana Effort Loses at US High Court Can Bar Medical Marijuana Use State Medical Marijuana Laws Remain Valid

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Comment #8 posted by The GCW on June 06, 2005 at 21:13:08 PT
Vote here Should the federal government prosecute medical marijuana users, now that it has been given the OK by the Supreme Court? * 69575 responses Yes 
10% No 
88% I'm not sure 
2%&&&&LOU DOBBS TONIGHT QUICKVOTE Do you believe the federal government should prosecute doctors who prescribe medical marijuana? Current Results: Yes -- 7% No -- 93% Total: 3264 votes
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Comment #7 posted by runderwo on June 06, 2005 at 16:16:14 PT
""Our cases have taught us that there are some unscrupulous physicians who overprescribe when it is sufficiently profitable to do so," he said."Okay? And this justifies federal intervention under the interstate commerce authority by what reasoning?
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Comment #6 posted by CorvallisEric on June 06, 2005 at 14:23:39 PT
10% yes
That's the vote you get if you ask whether the earth is flat.
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Comment #5 posted by afterburner on June 06, 2005 at 11:50:52 PT
I didn't see a "H ll No" so I voted "No" with the other 88%!
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Comment #4 posted by dongenero on June 06, 2005 at 11:49:35 PT
up to congress to respond?
Congress showed us how quickly they can respond to matters of health, life and death, when they acted on the Terry Schiavo case.So , we know they could take up what the Supreme Court has laid in their lap, and correct this issue for Raich and Monson immediately.
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Comment #3 posted by MikeEEEEE on June 06, 2005 at 11:49:02 PT
Out of touch
It's obvious that these guys are out of reality with the rest of the population.This is not about compassion; it's about power and the drug industry.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on June 06, 2005 at 11:42:56 PT
Related News Article from
Rehnquist Backs Medical Marijuana PatientsJune 6, 2005Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who is fighting thyroid cancer, disagreed with Monday's Supreme Court ruling that allows federal prosecutions of ill medical marijuana users.Rehnquist, 80, joined a dissent written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor that said that states should be allowed to set their own policies for marijuana use.O'Connor, who has had breast cancer, said that states should decide on their own "the difficult and sensitive question of whether marijuana should be available to relieve severe pain and suffering."Two court members who have had cancer voted with the Bush administration: John Paul Stevens, who had prostate cancer, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was treated for colon cancer.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 06, 2005 at 11:37:56 PT

Friendly Reminder: Please Vote!
Should the federal government prosecute medical marijuana users, now that it has been given the OK by the Supreme Court?  Current Results:* 53966 responses 
 Yes -- 10% 
No     -- 88%  
 I'm not sure -- 2%
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