Federal Suit Charges DEA’s Raids Of California Medi-Pot Patients Are Unconstitutional

Oakland, CA: A pair of California medical marijuana patients and providers brought suit Wednesday to demand the federal government stop targeting those who use and grow the drug legally under state law. The suit is in response to a recent wave of federal raids and arrests of California medical marijuana patients and cooperatives.

The lawsuit, filed by NORML Legal Committee member David Michael and co-counsel Robert Raich in U.S. District Court in Oakland, argues that U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Drug Enforcement Administration director Asa Hutchinson are violating the Fifth, Ninth and 10th amendments as well as exceeding their authority under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by cracking down on medical marijuana use in California. “Defendants are unconstitutionally exceeding their authority by embarking on a campaign of seizing or forfeiting privately-grown wholly intrastate medical cannabis from California patients and caregivers, arresting or prosecuting such patients and caregivers, mounting paramilitary raids against such patients and caregivers, harassing such patients and caregivers, and taking other civil or administrative actions against them,” the plaintiffs’ complaint states.

Lawyers in the suit argue that their patient clients suffer from a host of serious illnesses, including severe weight loss, spasms, nausea and chronic pain, and maintain that they “have suffered and will continue to suffer irreparable harm due to Defendants’ challenged actions and practices.” Plaintiffs in the suit are seeking to enjoin the federal government from arresting state-qualified medicinal cannabis users, seizing their medicine, “or seeking civil or administrative sanctions against them.”

“We are seeking the right of these patients to obtain the medicine they absolutely need free from fear of reprisal from the federal government,” Raich told The Associated Press.

The lawsuit is the second filed against the federal government in recent weeks in response to medical marijuana raids in California. A previous suit brought by the co-founders of the Wo/Mans Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) in Santa Cruz argues that federal officials acted unconstitutionally when they seized the group’s organically grown medicinal cannabis because it does not fall within the category of interstate commerce.

Since September 11, 2001, federal drug enforcement officials have taken action against more than 35 medicinal marijuana patients, cooperatives and providers in California.

For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-8751. Attorney David Michael of San Francisco may be contacted at: (415) 621-4500.