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Supreme Court To Hear Oral Arguments Monday On Whether Feds Can Prosecute Medical Marijuana Patients
November 24, 2004 - Washington, DC, USA
Washington, DC: The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Monday to determine whether patients who use marijuana in compliance with state laws are constitutionally protected from federal arrest and prosecution.
Respondents in the case, Angel Raich and Diane Monson of California, were granted injunctive relief from federal prosecution by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in December, when the court determined that the prosecution of patients who possess and cultivate marijuana for their own personal use in accordance with state law is an unconstitutional exercise of Congress' Commerce Clause authority.
"[T]he intrastate, noncommercial cultivation, possession and use of marijuana for personal medical purposes on the advice of a physician ? is, in fact, different in kind from drug trafficking," the court found in a 2-1 decision. "Moreover, this limited use is clearly distinct from the broader illicit drug market ... insofar as the medicinal marijuana at issue in this case is not intended for, nor does it enter, the stream of commerce. ... This conclusion, coupled with the public interest considerations and the burden faced by [Raich and Monson] if, contrary to California law, they are denied access to medicinal marijuana," warrants the court to find in favor of the appellants' request for injunctive relief.
The US Justice Department is requesting the Supreme Court to overturn the Ninth Circuit's decision.
NORML and the NORML Foundation filed a joint amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court in October on behalf of Raich and Monson, stating: "This case is about the confluence of the state and individual rights: A state's capacity to legislate its public health policy, by choosing its own means and ends to achieve what it believes best serves the good of its people, when there is no superior or even competing federal interest; and, the right of personal medical choices of the chronically and terminally ill, made in consultation with their doctors.
"If our Constitution means anything, it should mean that 'the war on drugs' cannot be made to be a war on the quality of life of the chronically or terminally ill. Sadly, ... the government believes in and promotes a constitutional regime that enables the federal government to enforce its policies which only serve to enhance patients' pain contrary to state law and in denigration of the principles embodied in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and to elementary notions of federalism. This Court must reject any such view of the federal law and the Constitution that violates the rights of both citizens and the states to enact laws for their common good where there is no federal interest and where the federal government expressly disclaimed any interest in preemption under [federal law.]"
NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup said, "At its core, this case is about the right of seriously ill patients to use marijuana as a medicine to relieve their pain and suffering, without fear of arrest by the federal government, in those states that have legalized its use. The legal principle involved ?whether the federal government can use its powers under the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution to override state law in this area ?will likely impact a wide range of issues in the future, unrelated to the use of medical marijuana.
"Should the Supreme Court uphold the Ninth Circuit decision, patients in states that have legalized the medical use of marijuana will no longer live in fear of federal prosecution. Should the Supreme Court overturn the Ninth Circuit's ruling, the medical marijuana issue will still remain prominent in the political arena, to be ultimately decided by legislatures and by voter initiative."
"in times of widespread chaos and confusion, it has been the duty of more advanced human beings - artists, scientists, clowns, and philosophers - to create order. In such times as ours however, when there is too much order, too much m management, too much programming and control, it becomes the duty of superior men and women and women to fling their favorite monkey wrenches into the machinery. To relieve the repression of the human spirit, they must sow doubt and disruption"
"People do it every day, they talk to themselves ... they see themselves as they'd like to be, they don't have the courage you have, to just run with it."