Pubdate: Fri, 27 Feb 2004
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2004 The New York Times Company
Author: Dean E. Murphy
Note: To read about this case, and the court opinion visit
Cited: Americans for Safe Access
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


San Francisco  - The federal appeals court here has refused to
reconsider its ruling that allows Californians to grow and use
marijuana to treat their illnesses.

The Bush administration had asked the court, for the Ninth Circuit, to
hold a new hearing on that ruling, issued by a three-judge panel in
December on a lawsuit filed by two women with chronic illnesses. But
in an order issued Wednesday and made public on Thursday, the court
denied the request.

Justice Department officials declined to comment on the order or
whether it would be appealed to the Supreme Court. Medicinal-marijuana
advocates said it would allow tens of thousands of people in
California and six other Western states with laws that permit such
marijuana use to continue it without fearing federal

The new order "means medical marijuana patients throughout the Western
states can sleep easier tonight," Steph Sherer, executive director of
the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said in a statement.

Though California voters approved a 1996 ballot measure legalizing
medicinal use of marijuana, federal officials have continued
prosecutions under the interstate commerce clause of the Controlled
Substances Act.

In its 2-to-1 vote in December, the court found that medicinal
marijuana "does not have any direct or obvious effect on interstate
commerce" when it is grown locally for personal consumption under the
advice of a physician and when patients do not pay for it.

Writing for himself and Judge Richard A. Paez, Judge Harry Pregerson
said such use of the drug was "different in kind from drug
trafficking." Judge C. Arlen Beam dissented. 
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