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Supreme Court To Rule On Medical Marijuana Exemption

Thursday, 01 July 2004

Washington, DC: The Supreme Court agreed this week to consider a Ninth Circuit court ruling which found that the federal prosecution of patients who possess or cultivate medical marijuana in states where its use is permitted is an unconstitutional exercise of Congress' Commerce Clause authority. The Bush administration is appealing the 2-1 decision, which granted petitioners - California medical marijuana patients Angel Raich and Diane Monson - an injunction barring the Justice Department from federally prosecuting them under the Controlled Substances Act.

In that decision, Judge Harry Pregerson wrote for the appeals court majority that the medicinal use of cannabis by qualified patients in states which allow it "is clearly distinct from the broader illicit drug market."

The Court added: "As applied to the limited class of activities presented by this case, ... the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and not for exchange or distribution is not properly characterized as commercial or economic activity," as defined by the CSA. "This conclusion, coupled with the public interest considerations and the burden faced by the appellants if, contrary to California law, they are denied access to medicinal marijuana, warrants the entry of a preliminary injunction."

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case sometime next winter, the Associated Press reported. Their ruling "will set national precedent by weighing whether or not patients have the legal right to treat their illnesses by medicating with cannabis when recommended by their doctors," legal counsel for the petitioners said in a press release.

For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or visit:
http://angeljustice.org