Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by RMJL, Mar 29, 2001.

  1. NORML E-Zine
    Volume 4
    Issue 13
    March 28, 2001

    The NORML E-Zine is a free weekly compilation of major news items
    regarding marijuana policy. Text of archived stories are
    available on
    NORML's website at:


    High Court Mulls "Medical Necessity" for Marijuana Providers,
    Avoids Federal
    Supremacy Question

    Washington, DC: Supreme Court justices heard arguments for
    the first
    time today on whether organizations or individuals who
    violate federal
    marijuana laws may raise the defense of "medical
    necessity" to avoid a
    criminal conviction. Lawyers for the
    Justice Department appealed a Ninth
    Circuit Court of Appeals
    decision rendered in July that stipulates there
    exists a class
    of patients who benefit medically from marijuana, and that
    should not face federal criminal penalties for using it. The
    Circuit decision added that this legal protection should
    also extend to
    organizations that supply such patients with

    NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup said that a majority
    of justices
    appeared skeptical that the medical necessity defense
    should protect third
    party providers such as the Oakland Cannabis
    Buyers' Cooperative, but seemed
    sympathetic to the use of medical
    marijuana by individual patients.

    Stroup further added that regardless of how the Supreme Court
    state laws allowing qualified patients to use marijuana
    medicinally remain
    safely intact. "The case before the Court
    today is not a legal challenge
    to California's Proposition 215,
    nor is it a threat to any of the additional
    eight medical
    marijuana-use laws passed since 1996," he said. "In fact,
    justices noted and the attorney for the Justice Department
    that the question of federal supremacy as it pertains
    to the legality of
    state medical marijuana laws is not at issue

    Since 1996, nine states - Alaska, Arizona, California,
    Colorado, Hawaii,
    Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington - have
    adopted legislation exempting
    patients who use marijuana under
    their doctor's supervision from criminal
    penalties under state
    law. To date, federal officials have not challenged
    the legality
    of any of those measures. Justice Department officials did

    initially threaten to sanction physicians who recommended marijuana
    their patients in accordance with state law. However, a federal
    enjoined the government from doing so, finding that a
    physician's right
    to discuss marijuana therapy with a patient
    is constitutionally protected.
    Justice officials later filed a
    civil suit in federal court against six
    California medical
    marijuana dispensaries, including the Oakland club.
    The Oakland
    Cooperative, which continues to operate as a patient resource
    center but
    no longer distributes medical marijuana, was the
    sole defendant in today's

    For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML
    Director, at (202) 483-5500.

    Support NORML's efforts to change marijuana policy and educate
    the public
    to alternatives to marijuana prohibition. You can
    join or donate online


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