Pubdate: Tue, 07 Jun 2005
Source: Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, WI)
Copyright: 2005 Eau Claire Press
Note:: By Leader-Telegram Staff and news services
Cited: National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Bookmark: (Jacki Rickert)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Angel Raich)


Court: Federal Rules Override State Laws

Jacki Rickert, 54, of Mondovi, thinks the Supreme Court has made a

On Monday, the court ruled that people who smoke marijuana for
medicinal purposes can be prosecuted for violating federal drug laws.

She called the ruling "ridiculous. I think it's a real big setback
definitely for medical patients."

Rickert has two rare illnesses that cause pain and restrict her
movement. She was approved in late 1990 for a federal program that
allowed her to use marijuana for medical purposes, but the program
ended before she started.

Rickert earlier found marijuana decreased pain and allowed her to
perform functions she was unable to do with synthetic drugs.

"I will never give up the fight to get patients the medicine they
deserve," Rickert said. "I don't see any reason for bothering patients
that aren't bothering anyone else.

"I don't think it should be anything between the government or Supreme
Court. It should be between a doctor and patient."

The ruling does not strike down medical marijuana laws in California,
Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont or
Washington state.

State and local authorities in most of those states said they have no
interest in arresting people who smoke pot because their doctors
recommend it to ease pain.

Rickert said she doesn't plan on moving to states that allow medicinal
marijuana use. "I live in Wisconsin and will continue the fight here,"
she said.

After the ruling Monday, a steady stream of customers filed into the
Love Shack in San Francisco, where anybody with a city-issued cannabis
card could buy $5 pot brownies or spend up to 20 minutes inhaling
premium marijuana that sells for $320 an ounce.

It was business as usual at the medical marijuana club - one of dozens
in San Francisco.

Crime fighters in California and other states with medical marijuana
laws insisted they were not about to start looking for reasons to shut
down the dispensaries.

Dwion Gates, who was sitting next to a pair of bongs, said he's "a
little bit shaken."

"I'm hoping that San Francisco will continue to be the compassionate
place it has been in allowing places like this to exist legally," said
Gates, 48, who smokes pot regularly to treat the pain from a bullet
lodged in his back since 1983.

Oregon, where more than 10,000 residents hold medical marijuana cards,
stopped issuing new cards Monday, but elsewhere officials assured the
public the situation was status quo.

"People shouldn't panic. There aren't going to be many changes,"
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said. "Nothing is different
today than it was two days ago, in terms of real world impact."

It remains to be seen whether the Drug Enforcement Administration will
crack down on medical marijuana users. The Justice Department didn't
comment Monday.

Paul Armentano of the National Organization for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws said arrests of ailing patients have been rare, but the
government has arrested more than 60 people in medical marijuana raids
since September 2001.

Most of those arrests have been in California - the first state to
allow medical marijuana, in 1996. On Monday, Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger, who previously has supported use of pot by sick
people, said only: "It is now up to Congress to provide clarity."

In Montana, the 119 residents who paid $200 to get on the state's
confidential registry won't face state prosecution, said state
Attorney General Mike McGrath. He said the state is not obligated to
help federal authorities prosecute people following state law.

While the Supreme Court justices expressed sympathy for two seriously
ill California women who brought the case, the majority agreed that
federal agents may arrest even sick people who use the drug as well as
the people who grow pot for them.

Dana May, of Aurora, Colo., said he probably will stop smoking pot
because of the ruling, even though marijuana eases the debilitating
pain of a nerve disease. "It'll change my entire world," he said. "I'm
afraid they'll come after me."

Other patients said they were determined to continue smoking.

"I don't care whether it's legal or illegal," said cancer patient
Christopher Campbell, 58, of Portland, Ore. Campbell suffers from
lymphoma and has had his spleen removed, along with portions of his
pancreas and stomach.

The ruling makes Valerie Corral nervous. She operates a 150-plant pot
farm in California's Santa Cruz County, providing marijuana for free
to about 165 seriously ill members. Corral said the high court's
decision "leaves us protecting ourselves from a government that should
be protecting us." 
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