Pubdate: Thu, 12 Apr 2001
Source: Bay Area Reporter (CA)
Copyright: 2001 The Bay Area Reporter / B.A.R.
Author: Pebbles Trippet
Bookmark: (Oakland Cannabis Buyers


Tragically, the U.S. Supreme Court's first decision on medical marijuana
will not even consider the argument that California has a right to
decide its own internal affairs. 

The current conservative majority of the court has repeatedly supported
states' rights by voiding federal laws as exceeding Congress' authority
over interstate commerce. It would be easy for them to extend this to
marijuana since they would basically just be reaffirming their 1925
Linder v. U.S. decision, which held that a doctor supplying a small
amount of drugs to a patient for medical purposes was a local matter
which federal laws could not control. 

Yet our side's lawyers refused to present this or any other argument
that could benefit any large number of patients, instead gambling on the
theory that the narrowest victory is easiest to win and that we should
therefore sacrifice the rights of the majority and gear all our
arguments to the rights of a few with the most extreme no-alternatives

I disagreed with this approach and filed an amicus brief based on
states' rights, arguing that the current exemption for medically
necessary marijuana should not just be upheld but expanded to include
the far larger number of patients qualifying under Proposition 215,
which only requires a doctor's recommendation or approval. 

I was delighted when Attorney General Bill Lockyer also filed an amicus
brief which argued that states have a right to legalize medical use of
marijuana if they choose. 

But the questions at the hearing indicate that the court is ignoring the
amicus briefs. 

So the result is that the great majority of patients protected by 215
have had our rights effectively abandoned by our lawyers, while the most
winnable argument for all of us - the right of California to decide what
to allow within its borders - never even gets brought up. 

We are victims of seriously bad lawyering. 

Pebbles Trippet, Albion, California
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