Pubdate: Fri, 25 Jan 2002
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2002 Tahoe-Carson Area Newspapers
Author: Bruce Mirken
Bookmark: (Oakland Cannabis Court Case)


To the editor;

Now that the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative has resumed its fight for
the right to distribute medical marijuana to patients using it legally under
California law, it is important to keep in mind what last May's Supreme
Court ruling did and did not do.

The court's decision in United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers'
Cooperative et al did not prevent states from taking action to protect
patients who use marijuana for medical purposes. All eight medical marijuana
statutes enacted since 1996 remain in full force and effect. The court
merely said that distributors of medical marijuana couldn't use a "medical
necessity" defense under federal law.

While this, combined with federal raids on the clubs, creates great hardship
and inconvenience for patients, medical marijuana users who are in
compliance with their states' laws are still protected from arrest by those
laws. This is critical, as 99 percent of marijuana arrests are made by state
and local authorities. In other words, effective state laws prevent 99 out
of 100 arrests of medical marijuana patients. While arrests by federal
agents are theoretically possible, the Justice Department thus far has not
gone after individual medical marijuana users -- perhaps realizing they have
little chance of convicting patients who are simply trying to ease their

As the legal battles over the federal government's absurd war on medical
marijuana continue, state governments need not fear the Supreme Court. They
can and should continue to act to protect patients.

Bruce Mirken

Washington, D.C.
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