Pubdate: Thu, 15 Mar 2007
Source: News Tribune, The (Tacoma, WA)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Author: Jesse McKinley, New York Times
Alert: Medical Marijuana Across America
Cited: Angel Raich
Cited: The Drug Law Reform Project of the American Civil Liberties 
Bookmark: (Angel Raich)
Boookmark: (Ed Rosenthal)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


SAN FRANCISCO -- Federal appellate judges in San Francisco ruled on
Wednesday that a terminally ill woman using marijuana was not immune
from federal prosecution simply because of her condition, and -- in a
separate case -- a federal judge dismissed most of the charges against
a prominent advocate for the drug.

The woman, Angel McClary Raich, says she uses marijuana on a doctor's
recommendation to treat an inoperable brain tumor and other serious

Raich, 41, asserts that the drug effectively keeps her alive, by
stimulating appetite and relieving pain in a way that prescription
drugs do not. She wept when she heard the decision.

"It's not every day in this country that someone's right to life is
taken from them," said Raich, appearing frail during a news conference
in Oakland, Calif., where she lives. "Today you are looking at someone
who really is walking dead."

In 2002, she and three other plaintiffs sued the government, seeking
relief from federal laws outlawing marijuana. The case made its way to
the Supreme Court, and in 2005, the court ruled against Raich, finding
the federal government had the authority to prohibit and prosecute the
possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes. But the justices
sent elements of Raich's case back to a lower court to consider.

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals found that while they sympathized with Raich's plight and had
seen "uncontroverted evidence" that she needed marijuana to survive,
she lacked the legal grounds to exempt herself from federal law.

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, in a
1996 ballot measure. That measure set off a decade-long fight over
such legal issues as state rights and so-called "common law necessity"
defenses like Raich's.

In the other ruling Wednesday, a judge in U.S. District Court handed a
victory to marijuana advocate Ed Rosenthal.

Rosenthal, 62, said federal prosecutors had targeted him with an array
of drug, money laundering and tax evasion charges, many of which
closely mirrored charges he was convicted of in 2003, when he was
growing medical marijuana under California's law at a dispensary in
Oakland. That conviction was overturned last year. Rosenthal had
suggested the prosecution was being vindictive. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake