Renewed Bid for Medical Marijuana Back in Court 

Renewed Bid for Medical Marijuana Back in Court 
Posted by CN Staff on March 23, 2006 at 13:37:59 PT
By David Kravets, The Associated Press
Source: Associated Press
San Francisco -- Each time the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on medical marijuana, the justices have come down against allowing the sick and dying to use the drug to ease their symptoms and possibly prolong life. But the door has never been fully closed. This week, a federal appeals court in California will hear arguments in the latest round of legal wrangling over the issue.The case to be argued before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday narrows the matter to the so-called right to life theory: that marijuana should be allowed if it is the only viable option to keep a patient alive or free of excruciating pain.
It would apply only to the sickest patients and their suppliers, regardless of whether they live in one of the 11 mostly Western states authorizing medical marijuana."A victory would affect people who are very seriously ill, facing death or great physical suffering," said Randy Barnett, a Boston University law school professor working on the case.The case was brought by Angel Raich, a 40-year-old mother of two from Oakland who suffers from scoliosis, a brain tumor, chronic nausea and other ailments. She uses marijuana every couple of hours to ease her pain and bolster a nonexistent appetite."She'd probably be dead without marijuana," said her doctor, Frank Lucido, who has recommended marijuana for some 3,000 patients. "Nothing else works."The Bush administration says the lawsuit is without merit."There is no fundamental right to distribute, cultivate or possess marijuana," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Quinlivan, the government's lead medical marijuana attorney, wrote to the appeals court.Voters in 1996 made California the first state to authorize patients to use marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. Ten other states have since followed suit, but the federal government says there is no medical value to the drug.In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that Raich's supplier, the Oakland Cannabis Buyer's Cooperative, could not lawfully dispense marijuana despite California voters approving its medical use.Two years later, in a small victory for medical marijuana backers, the high court let stand a 9th Circuit decision saying doctors have a First Amendment right to discuss or recommend the drug to patients without the threat of federal sanctions.But last June, the Supreme Court ruled the federal government could prosecute medical marijuana users and their suppliers.In some states, federal agents have been sporadically arresting users and raiding so-called pot clubs that dole out the drug to patients.Still, a footnote by Justice Clarence Thomas in his 2001 ruling left the legal questions surrounding medical marijuana unsettled and helped open the door to Monday's 9th Circuit hearing.Thomas wrote that important underlying constitutional questions remain unresolved, such as Congress' ability to interfere with states experimenting with their own laws and whether Americans have a fundamental right to marijuana as a vehicle to stay alive and ease pain.The justices answered the first part of that footnote in June, ruling in another case brought by Raich that patients living in states with medical marijuana laws could be prosecuted because Congress has classified marijuana as an illegal controlled substance.That prompted Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., to propose legislation that would have blocked the Justice Department from prosecuting medical marijuana users in states where it is legal. The House balked at the measure 264-161. A Hinchey spokesman said the congressman will resurrect the proposal this summer.Raich is back before the 9th Circuit, one step short of the Supreme Court, in a bid to settle the second part of Thomas' footnote.Her lawyer, Barnett, is arguing the Constitution guarantees the gravely ill a right to available medication to keep them alive and relieve torturous pain.Even if it is successful, the case would be unlikely to stop the raids on pot clubs or protect most users and suppliers. Raich herself was arrested last week for disorderly conduct after she demonstrated outside the Oakland federal courthouse over a recent raid on a medical marijuana dispensary.Regardless of the outcome of her case, she said she will continue using marijuana to treat her symptoms, and will keep fighting to do so without the threat or fear of federal prosecution. She expects her case to go to the Supreme Court no matter the outcome."I am going to keep doing this until they stop me because this is not a medical cannabis case but a right to life case," she said. "The federal government can say who can live and who can die if I lose in the Supreme Court."The case is Raich v. Gonzales, 03-15481.Editors: David Kravets has been covering state and federal courts for more than a decade. Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: David Kravets, The Associated PressPublished: March 23, 2006Copyright: 2006 Associated Press Angel Justice Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #3 posted by Max Flowers on March 25, 2006 at 10:38:02 PT
Dr. Frank!
"She'd probably be dead without marijuana," said her doctor, Frank Lucido, who has recommended marijuana for some 3,000 patients. "Nothing else works."Go Dr. Lucido! He's my doctor too. He's a fighter and an activist on the side of good, not some bought-and-paid-for, pill-pushing, amoral piece of work (can you tell I don't have a lot of respect for the average "doctor"?).
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on March 23, 2006 at 14:04:09 PT
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 23, 2006 at 13:55:58 PT
Historic Medical Cannabis Case Back in Court
On Monday, March 27, 2006, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the new arguments in Raich v. Gonzales on Remand from the United States Supreme Court.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena.   Historic Medical Cannabis Case Back in Court. On Monday, March 27, 2006, at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom Three, at the Richard H. Chambers U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Building, 125 South Grand Avenue, Pasadena, California. Each side is allotted thirty (30) minutes for arguments. Prohibiting Angel Raich’s medical cannabis activities – which the undisputed evidence establishes are necessary to save her from intolerable pain and death – would unduly burden her fundamental rights and would thus violate the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause and the retained rights referred to in the Ninth Amendment. The government does not attempt to refute Appellants’ showing that the Due Process Clause and the Ninth Amendment protect not only the fundamental right to “life,” but also the fundamental rights to make life-shaping decisions, preserve bodily integrity, and avoid severe pain. Nor does it dispute that its prohibition of Angel’s medically necessary activities must be ruled unconstitutional if this Court applies the undue burden standard. Instead, it simply denies that any fundamental rights are at stake and insists that mere rationality review applies. The government’s argument is untenable.The government fails to cite Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), the Supreme Court’s most recent – and thus controlling – ruling on the substantive protections of the Due Process Clause. As a result of this omission and its misunderstandings of the Supreme Court’s other applicable opinions, the government characterizes Angel’s fundamental rights far too narrowly and fails to engage in the historical analysis that the Supreme Court’s precedents demand. The government compounds these errors by relying heavily on plainly inapplicable cases involving attempts to obtain laetrile in commerce as an elective treatment and persons seeking to select a healthcare provider who fails to satisfy basic licensing requirements. 
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