Pubdate: Sat, 30 Aug 2003
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2003 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Claire Cooper, Bee Legal Affairs Writer
Bookmark: (Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical 


Santa Cruz County and its local medical marijuana cooperative have lost 
their novel suit to block federal government interference with the supply 
of legal pot. U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose issued an 
opinion late Thursday saying he sympathized with patients who depend on pot 
to ease their suffering -- a legal option under California state law.

But Fogel said he was powerless to enjoin raids by the U.S. Justice 
Department and Drug Enforcement Administration. In one such raid last 
September, 167 plants were confiscated at the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical 
Marijuana outside Santa Cruz, a city-sanctioned cooperative.

The lawsuit, Santa Cruz County v. John Ashcroft, was based on a number of 
constitutional grounds, including an asserted personal right of patients to 
control the circumstances of their death.

Regional DEA spokesman Richard Meyer said, "We were confident it would be 
found without merit."

Santa Clara University law professor Gerald Uelmen said the legal team that 
filed the suit may try to salvage it with amendments.

Evidence that only marijuana works for some patients and that a court order 
could be limited to pot, as opposed to other narcotics, could be enough to 
change Fogel's mind, Uelmen said.

"For us," said Meyer of the DEA, "it's going to be business as usual."
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