Pubdate: Sat, 12 Jul 2003
Source: North County Times (CA)
Contact:  2003 North County Times
Author: Gina Holland, Associated Press 
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


WASHINGTON -(AP)- The Bush administration wants the Supreme Court's
permission to strip prescription licenses from doctors who recommend
marijuana to sick patients. 

The administration, which has taken a hard stand against state medical
marijuana laws, asked the high court to strike down an appeals court ruling
that blocked the punishment, or investigation, of physicians who tell
patients they may be helped by the drug. 

The administration's appeal, filed this week, gives the Supreme Court a
chance to revisit the subject of legalized marijuana. Two years ago, the
court ruled that there is no exception in federal drug laws for people to
use pot to ease pain from cancer, AIDS or other illnesses. That case also
involved a ruling of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of

Solicitor General Theodore Olson said the latest 9th Circuit decision keeps
the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration from protecting the public. He said
the ruling licenses doctors to treat patients with illegal drugs and that
physicians who urge patients to use pot are no different than those
recommending heroin or LSD. 

Medical marijuana laws are on the books in Alaska, Arizona, California,
Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. 

At issue is a policy, put in place during the Clinton administration, that
requires the revocation of federal prescription licenses of doctors who
recommend marijuana. 

The appeals court said that the policy interferes with free-speech rights of
doctors and patients. Physicians should be able to speak candidly with
patients without fear of government sanctions, the court said, but they can
be punished if they actually help patients obtain the drug. 

Graham Boyd, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing
patients, doctors, and other groups, said a government victory at the high
court would gut the medical marijuana laws and hurt doctor-patient

"This case is about doctors providing honest and accurate medical advice to
patients and the government wanting to censor that advice and leave patients
to the Internet, their friends and back alley information in order to make
medical decisions," Boyd said Friday. 

Justices will likely decide this fall whether to review the case.
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