Pubdate: Tue, 07 Jun 2005
Source: Rutland Herald (VT)
Copyright: 2005 Rutland Herald
Author: Wilson Ring, Associated Press
Cited: Gonzales v. Raich ( )
Cited: Vermont Marijuana Policy Project ( )
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Angel Raich)


MONTPELIER -- Advocates and users of medical marijuana in Vermont say
Monday's Supreme Court decision that users could be arrested for
violating federal drug law doesn't change anything.

The vast majority of small-scale marijuana cases are prosecuted at the
state level and none of the 13 Vermonters registered to use marijuana
for medical purposes would be worthy of federal prosecution, the
advocates say.

"We were hoping for a win (in the Supreme Court) so Vermonters would
be protected under federal law as well as state law," said Nancy
Lynch, director of the Vermont Marijuana Policy Project. "When the
medical marijuana bill was passed, lawmakers had to take into
consideration that people would still be using marijuana illegally
under federal law."

"What is different today than yesterday? Nothing," Lynch

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that federal authorities may
prosecute sick people whose doctors prescribe marijuana to ease pain,
concluding that state laws don't protect users from a federal ban on
the drug. The decision said Congress could change federal marijuana

Vermont is one of 10 states with a medical marijuana

Last July, Vermont's medical marijuana law took effect. Vermonters who
suffer from cancer, multiple sclerosis or AIDS or related diseases can
use marijuana to alleviate their symptoms.

Under the state law, people who suffer from one of the qualifying
diseases and want to use marijuana must register with the Department
of Public Safety by filling out an application that includes a section
for their physician to fill out. They must also pay a $100 annual
registration fee.

Under the state law, registered Vermonters can cultivate up to three
plants for their personal use. There is no provision that allows
Vermonters to acquire their first marijuana seeds legally.

Jason Gibbs, a spokesman for Gov. James Douglas, said the Supreme
Court ruling would not change the way the state registered people
eligible to use marijuana to alleviate their suffering.

"A preliminary analysis indicates no change is necessary," Gibbs

Mark Tucci, 48, of Manchester, who suffers from multiple sclerosis,
was the seventh Vermonter to register with the Department of Public
Safety to use medical marijuana.

He said using marijuana meant he didn't have to take what he
considered to be stronger narcotics to fight the pain caused by MS.

"It is by far the most benign thing I've pumped into my body. It just
gets rid of a lot of pain. It makes my life bearable," Tucci said.

Tucci helped lobby the Vermont Legislature to pass the medical
marijuana law. He said if federal authorities want to make an example
of someone, his outspokenness on the issue would make him a good candidate.

Tucci is raising two teenage boys by himself after his ex-wife died of
leukemia years ago. He has given his sons instructions on what to do
in case of a raid by federal authorities.

"If I saw a black car pulling up in my door yard I would not be
surprised," Tucci said. He was referring to a vehicle carrying federal

"I still hope and pray on the state level, we'll stay within the
confines of the law and they'll leave us alone. This ruling, thank God
we live in Vermont," Tucci said. "What that does, it will force
Congress to do something." 
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