Federal Court Rules Against Bush Administration's Subversion of California's Medical Marijuana Laws

For the first time, a court has recognized that a concerted effort by the federal government to sabotage state medical marijuana laws violates the U.S. Constitution.

While California's landmark 1996 medical marijuana law has mostly been upheld by the state's courts, after the U.S. Supreme Court's unfavorable ruling in 2005 it appeared the sun may have been setting on medical marijuana reform in the federal courts.

The outlook is a whole lot brighter after last week's ruling by U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel of San Jose, which denies a Bush administration request to dismiss a lawsuit by Santa Cruz city and county officials and the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), which was raided by federal agents in 2002.

More significantly, in a first-of-its-kind ruling, the court held that the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution bars the federal government from targeting the enforcement of federal drug laws to intentionally subvert state medical marijuana laws. The court ruled that the 10th Amendment would be violated if the ACLU can prove, as it has alleged, that a calculated pattern of selective arrests and prosecutions by the federal government has been intended to render "California's medical marijuana laws impossible to implement and thereby forcing California and its political subdivisions to recriminalize medial marijuana."

This ruling is especially significant because it recognizes the constitutional significance of the fact that the federal government has gone out of its way to arrest and prosecute some of the most legitimate doctors, patients, caregivers and dispensary owners that are working most closely with state and local officials.

WAMM, for instance, is widely recognized as a model medical marijuana patients' collective. WAMM is fully supported by the City and County of Santa Cruz, and functions in strict compliance with city and county ordinances and California state law. (In response to the 2002 arrest of WAMM's founders, Mike and Valerie Corral, the city of Santa Cruz even allowed WAMM to hold its regular meeting to distribute marijuana to its members on the steps of City Hall.) Founded over 15 years ago, WAMM has operated solely on a not-for-profit basis — it has not sold or purchased marijuana but rather its members have collectively cultivated their medicine and provided it free of charge to approved collective members with a physician's recommendation. WAMM includes 250 seriously ill men and women, with more than 80 percent of members suffering from a life-threatening illness. Health permitting, members have been encouraged to contribute volunteer hours to the organization by working in the garden, assisting with fundraising, volunteering in the office, or helping each other with informal hospice care.

The ACLU lawsuit alleges that in addition to targeting medical marijuana providers who cooperate most closely with municipalities, the defendants — U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, DEA agents involved in the raid of WAMM, and administrators of the DEA and Office of National Drug Control Policy — also violated the U.S. Constitution by (1) threatening to punish California physicians who recommend marijuana; (2) threatening government officials who issue medical marijuana identification cards; and (3) interfering with municipal zoning plans.

So, we have a potential legal breakthrough on our hands. This ruling, combined with the issuance of medical marijuana guidelines this week by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, and the passage of a medical marijuana employment rights bill in the California legislature earlier this month, provide further indication that California's medical marijuana law — which brings the state $100 million each year in tax revenue — is continuing to gain legitimacy in spite of the Bush administration's best efforts.

Let's hope that federal officials quit playing politics with medical science by bringing a merciful end to their cruel and counterproductive war on sick and dying medical marijuana patients.

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texas_libertarian

Finally justice has been served. We need to return to a proper and limited reading of the Commerce Clause and the powers of the Federal government as stated in Article 1, Section 8. (And legalize all drugs.)

Although I whole-heartedly support the ACLU's work in the area of drug policy, it seems that the ACLU only supports limited Federal government involvement in those areas it wants, while supporting massive Federal government involvment in many other areas.

Just some food for thought. Keep up the good work.

Robert

This kind of Law is stupid, I am a California teacher legalizing MJ have students not seeing the drug for what it is a danger this only makes it more attractive and students think it is ok to break moral codes and laws at the expense of the imediate desire of MJ. MJ is a harmful drug regardless of what voters may think.

Robert is an ass

Firstly, if your grammar and writing skills are any indication of your proficiency as a teacher, I am saddened at what a future our children have.

Secondly, but far more importantly, you speak from the stance of utter ignorance to fact. It is exactly your sort that continues to drive the persecution of those patients that would benefit from the lawful, and beneficial, responsible use of medical marijuana.

Robert, I encourage you to actually do some research before continuing to profess your ignorance. The fact that you are charged with the education of our youth is saddening.

Remember, Robert, “It is better to be silent, and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”

Robert is an ass II

Robert...

Furthermore... what gives you the right to impose your "moral codes" on others?

Who decides these "moral codes"?

In Pakistan, a member of their parliament just defended the "honor killings" of five women that were beaten, shot, and then buried alive - for “moral” reasons. Three of the women wanted to choose their own husbands and the other two were related to them.

Nevertheless, that is "morally acceptable" there. So, I guess morals should always take precedence over good judgment and civil liberty. Right?

Seriously, how do people like you become teachers!?!

edgarallenpoe

I hope that Robert isn't teaching English to California children.

chimera

you're a teacher and that's how you type and spell? kids, don't listen to this guy - what a joke.

marijuana is not for children, and i think everyone can agree on that. it should be kept out of the hands of the youth..period. drug education should approach the subject from a realistic angle i.e. marijuana will not kill you, but it can affect x,y,z.

CapD

Robert-
I don't know what you teach, but it's obviously not English.

Surya

Robert - I taught public high school in california, too. And our abstinence-only education (for drugs) is obviously not working. Students need to be informed about all the aspects of drugs - why people take them, the effects both positive and negative, and which drugs are most likely to lead to serious addiction and disastrous consequences. If we teach kids that Cannabis and Cocaine are equally dangerous, THEN cannabis can be a gateway drug. Teach how much more addictive and destructive cocaine and methamphetamines are, and they can make an informed choice.

Dan

Luckily we don't live in a country where one person unilaterally decides the morality of an entire nation. At least not on paper.

tomkzinti

Robert, I sure hope you're not an English teacher because your grammar is terrible. Do you teach Phys. Ed.? :)

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