Pubdate: Thu, 23 Nov 2006
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2006 The Oregonian
Author: Rachel LA Corte, The Oregonian
Note: Majority opinion:
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Doctor Approval - Washington's Top Court Rules on Who Can Give 
Recommendations for Use

OLYMPIA -- A voter-approved initiative allowing doctors to recommend 
medicinal marijuana does not apply to cases where the doctor is 
licensed outside the state of Washington, the Washington Supreme 
Court ruled Wednesday.

"The initiative could have, but did not, define a qualifying doctor 
as one with a valid license from any state," Justice Tom Chambers 
wrote in the 6-3 majority decision.

Initiative 692 passed in 1998 with 59 percent of the vote. It gives 
doctors the right to recommend -- but not prescribe -- marijuana for 
people suffering from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and 
other conditions that cause "intractable pain."

Marijuana is still illegal to buy and sell. It's listed in the same 
class of drugs as heroin and LSD. Possession of marijuana is allowed 
under I-692, but state law does not say how people can obtain it.

In its decision, the high court affirmed a Court of Appeals ruling 
that upheld the conviction of Sharon Tracy, who had been charged with 
possession and manufacture of marijuana.

Tracy suffers from a hip deformity and migraine headaches and has had 
a series of corrective surgeries following a ruptured colon and bowel 
conditions, according to court records.

She was arrested in May 2003 after police arrived at her home to 
investigate a domestic violence complaint. While there, police 
smelled marijuana. After returning with a search warrant, they found 
slightly more than an ounce of marijuana, four marijuana plants and a 
California medical marijuana card.

A few months after the arrest, she obtained another medical card from 
a doctor in Portland, the closest large city across the border from 
her home in Stevenson, Wash.

The judge at her trial in Skamania County would not let her use the 
compassionate use defense allowed under I-692, because she was not 
found to be a "qualified" candidate because the card in her 
possession at the time of her arrest was not issued by a doctor who 
was formally licensed to practice medicine in Washington state.

The trial court entered a finding that the authorization received by 
the Oregon doctor met Washington's requirements but it was not able 
to be used in court because the card was received after her arrest, 
Tracy's attorney said.

Tracy, 53, has been living in Hayward, Calif., since 2004 to care for 
her elderly mother.

Her attorney, David Schultz, said that at the time of her arrest, she 
was traveling back and forth between the two states because of her 
family situation, which is why she got the card from California in 
the first place.

Schultz said his client, who had not served any jail time pending the 
appeal, now faces as long as 90 days in jail. He said he hasn't yet 
decided whether to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court but said 
Tracy should not be in jail. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake