Pubdate: Tue, 10 Apr 2001
Source: Times Record (ME)
Copyright: 2001 Times Record Inc., ASC Inc
Author: Robert Kampia
Note: Kampia is the executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based 
Marijuana Policy Project, which filed an amicus brief in the case 
pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.


To the editor:

On March 28, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case 
addressing whether medical marijuana distributors may offer a 
"medical necessity" defense in federal court. The court's ruling in 
U.S. vs. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative cannot overturn Maine's 
medical marijuana law.

In the case, the U.S. Department of Justice is asking the Supreme 
Court to reverse the Sept. 13, 1999, decision of the U.S. Ninth 
Circuit Court of Appeals, which permits entities to distribute 
marijuana if they can prove that their clients are seriously ill and 
have a legitimate medical need for the substance.

This case deals exclusively with federal law and is essentially 
limited to distribution issues; it does not question a state's 
ability to allow patients to grow, possess and use medical marijuana 
under state law.

Nearly 99 percent of all marijuana arrests in the nation are made by 
state and local (not federal) officials. Thus, Maine's medical 
marijuana law effectively protects 99 out of every 100 medical 
marijuana users who otherwise would have been arrested and prosecuted 
- - no matter what the Supreme Court rules in the Oakland case.

Robert Kampia, Washington, D.C.
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MAP posted-by: Kirk Bauer