Suit Before Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals Seeks To Halt Federal Actions Against California’s Medical Cannabis Providers

On Wednesday, October 24, a group of California dispensary operators, medical cannabis providers, and patients, as Plaintiffs, filed their Opening Brief before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, asking the Circuit Court to hold that Plaintiffs, in their continuing litigation against the Federal Government, have a constitutional Ninth Amendment and Substantive Due Process fundamental right to distribute, possess and use medical cannabis. The brief, filed by members of the NORML Legal Committee, also contends that the Federal Government’s criminal prohibition of medical cannabis has no rational basis and thus violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Plaintiffs further contend that the Federal Government is Judicially Estopped from enforcing medical marijuana prohibition in states that allow such activity because the Administration has previously asserted in public and in court that they would no longer do so.

Plaintiffs in November 2011 initially filed suit in California’s four federal districts against Eric Holder (United States Attorney General), Michelle Leonhart (Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the individual US Attorneys of each California District: Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego — following increased efforts from the Obama administration and the state’s US Attorneys to crack down on the production and distribution of medical cannabis. Plaintiff’s are asking the Ninth Circuit to reverse the district court’s dismissal of that complaint, and to allow the plaintiff’s the opportunity to prove their contentions in a court of law.

Three members of the NORML Legal Committee — Matt Kumin and David Michael from San Francisco and Alan Silber from Roseland, NJ — are representing the Plaintiffs in this appeal. In a press release, they stated, “The ill, in compliance with state law and with a physician’s recommendation, are made to suffer needlessly by the federal threats and denial of access to medical cannabis due to irrational governmental policy. Judicial intervention is the only way to stop the federal government from acting irrationally and from willfully ignoring the science supporting the use of cannabis as medicine.”

The cases are El Camino Wellness Center, et al. v. Eric Holder et al. (Sacramento), Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, et al. v. Eric Holder, et al. (San Francisco), and Alternative Community Health Care Cooperative, et al. v. Eric Holder, et al. (San Diego).

Other NLC attorneys who participated in the litigation of these cases are Lance Rogers of San Diego, Mark Reichel of Sacramento and Edward Burch of San Francisco.

A copy of Plaintiff’s Opening Brief is available here.

19 thoughts

  1. They should demand to see the medical research used by the DEA to categorize cannabis as a Class I Narcotic.

  2. Mr President,

    I agree that many current happenings are “fundamentally wrong.”

    Here we have a lawsuit essentially filed by sick people and their doctors.

    Sounds fundamentally wrong.

    After all, congress had to convince people we needed such laws…people were more worried about the potential loss of rights. (I remember: “We aren’t after the pot smoker, those tough laws are for drug lords!” And here we are.) Therefore, our government allows for a majority to express their will in point of fact, otherwise there is tyranny.

  3. “The ill, in compliance with state law and with a physician’s recommendation, are made to suffer needlessly by the federal threats and denial of access to medical cannabis due to irrational governmental policy. Judicial intervention is the only way to stop the federal government from acting irrationally and from willfully ignoring the science supporting the use of cannabis as medicine.”

  4. If only we could sue against ‘irrational government policy’ and ‘willful ignoring’.

  5. For sure, Mr. Armentano.

    If you have any say whatsoever in regards to the 3 NORML Legal Committee members, the above question needs to be asked:

    “They should demand to see the medical research used by the DEA to categorize cannabis as a Class I Narcotic.”

    If their “research” can be rebutted and publicly scrutinized…

  6. cannabis is a plant and the bible clearly states”the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations!”I have never understood the blind acceptance of this prohibition since it is based on opinions and the only medical professional consulted disagreed with the prohibition.Alcohol prohibition lasted 13 years and has caused death, disfigurement, and all manner of family issues I know this because I come from an alcoholic family.The time to end this stupid law passed long ago.End the lies about this very valuable herb (and I do not mean valuable money wise but to the patients who need it)

  7. It is not “irrational” and there is no need to appeal to the Gov tobe rational and look at the truth. It is all money. The drug war is enormously profitable and they donate to both sides with good results. The courts are our only hope.

  8. I agree the plaintiffs should ask the court to force the DEA to present their evidence for their justification for categorizing marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic. Even with having an overwhelming lack of evidence, I doubt the Court will change anything, because “mari-jew-ana is bad, m’kay a- and we just shouldn’t allow it, m’kay”.

  9. The government has told you that CANNABIS is a “Scheduled” controlled substance. Schedule I, meaning little to no use (marinol?), strong potential for abuse/addiction, and danger to persons using it.
    The government actually holds patents for the medical use of the plant.
    Just check out US Patent 6630507 titled “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” which is assigned to The United States of America, as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services.
    We all need to ask our (representatives); what is going on??? The U.S. war on CANNABIS has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives – and for what?

  10. For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery.
    Jonathan Swift

    It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes.
    Andrew Jackson

    No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.
    Abraham Lincoln

    Our nation is built on the bedrock principle that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
    Adrian Cronauer

    The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.
    George Washington

    Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.
    George Washington

    “It is not only [the juror’s] right, but his duty … to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.” —John Adams

    Juries have the power to judge the facts and the law. If the law is a bad one, like marijuana prohibition, vote Not Guilty to acquit. We are attempting to change the bad marijuana laws.

    “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”
    Thomas Jefferson.
    Share this!

  11. @Ricard Bank

    It is not “irrational”. I think it’s irrational from an informed, scientific point of view.

    From alternative views? Maybe not so much.

  12. how can congress allow medical cannabis in D.C. but not anywhere else? Is congress allowed to ignore federal laws? Doesn’t the oath they take prevent them from breaking federal law. NORMLs attorney need to look into this!

    [Paul Armentano responds: The District has its own City Council and writes its own laws. Washington, DC’s medical marijuana law, which to date, has yet to be formally implemented, was the result of a successful localized ballot initiative — followed by the passage of legislation from the City Council. Congress has the power to step in and void laws passed by the District that they object to. To date, Congress has not done so with this specific statute .]

  13. I asked this question at work the other day “what would you think about the Federal government if the voters voted on an issue and won, and then the Federal government steps in says no way we are not changing our laws”? What would that say about a so called democratic society? Most of the people I talk to agree that cannabis needs to be legalized especially latin american people. They want the drug war to end and we owe it to them to stop prohibition of marijuana. They are the ones that are losing family members to the cartels.

  14. Roger Morgan is the executive director for Coalition for A Drug-Free California and wow! Is this guy a piece of work! He claims that MJ combines the harm of both tobacco and alcohol. He goes on to say that the sale of MJ won’t help the budget because for every $1 gained in revenue for those two, there is $8.95 in social costs due to the problems they create. Then he states that “433,000 Americans die from tobacco use every year. Get the drift?” Was he dropped on his head as a child? I know that’s harsh but really? Sometimes you have to wonder if these people know ANYTHING about the effects of MJ. Why do we have to fight these ignorant arguments? These people might as well just tell people that MJ is as dangerous as any drug out there. Oh wait… I’ve heard that one too. Wow… I continue to be amazed. Every day I discover stupidity at higher levels than I had yesterday.

  15. It is crazy there are people in texas that are still in jail for a ounce of pot doing 20 years it is insane Why is the goverment so afraid to legalize marijuna it is better than cigerattes or booze it is not aditive or harmful in any way Please make it legal in my life time I am 59 it is costing us so much money to enforce the drug war we could be making money sell pot and tax it

  16. The complete lack of support from the Feds on legalization is an example of what is called “passive aggressive”. They pretend they think marijuana is dangerous, but it is an act. Roger Morgan, David Evans and others like them; these guys are actors folks! They don’t believe the crap coming out of their own mouths; they only say it ’cause they believe you’re too stupid to know right from wrong and will keep giving them money to fight their vile “Drug War”. As long as this crap sells, they will keep pushing it. They are the ones selling us lies and wasted lives, not the other way around. Then when they get called out on it, especially in public, they become passive aggressive.

    I have to come to believe drug warriors are inherently hostile people with social issues who should not be in charge of anything in the public areas of concern. They are liars and manipulators. The fascists got conservative peoples all across America to believe this massive waste of money is “smart”. When actually they are leading us into the liberal financial madness of feeding and producing other generation of liars. You get paid good money to be full of shit here in America. Every part of the drug war is based on lies designed to waste money, which is why “the Drug War” has done nothing to affect “drug use”. Total leadership failure. Even putting marijuana in with dangerous drugs like coke is all part of the same scam. We literally put the foxes in charge of the hen house. Gee, I wonder why the chickens that lay eggs (our profits) keep disappearing?

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