HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Token Justice
Pubdate: Mon, 26 Jul 2004
Source: AlterNet (US Web)
Copyright: 2004 Independent Media Institute
Contact:  http://www.alternet.org/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1451
Author: Steve Kubby, AlterNet
Note: Steve Kubby has written two books on drug policy reform and currently 
serves as the National Director of the American Medical Marijuana 
Association. http://americanmarijuana.org/
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mmj.htm (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/kubby.htm (Kubby, Steve)

TOKEN JUSTICE

By continuing to target medical pot patients, the federal government
turns its back on millions of voters, the wishes of the dying and the
authority of the courts.

The term medical marijuana took on dramatic new meaning in February,
2000 when researchers in Madrid Spain announced they had destroyed
incurable brain tumors in rats by injecting them with THC, the most
psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

Most Americans don't know anything about the Madrid discovery.
Virtually no major U.S. newspapers carried the story, which ran only
once on the AP and UPI news wires, on Feb. 29, 2000. Why has this
vitally important information been suppressed while the media
regularly trumpet any possible breakthrough in cancer research?

The Madrid study wasn't the first time that THC has been administered
to tumor-bearing animals. In 1974 researchers at the Medical College
of Virginia, who had been funded by the National Institute of Health
in order to find evidence that marijuana damages the immune system,
found instead that THC slowed the growth of three kinds of cancer in
mice - lung and breast cancer, and a virus-induced leukemia. Since
then, dozens of other peer-reviewed scientific studies have confirmed
that THC and other canabinoids shrink tumors, cut off their blood
supply and may even program cancer cells to die.

Because news of such advances in our understanding of medical
marijuana has been suppressed, serious opposition still exists within
the law enforcement community. They claim that the Compassionate Use
Act of 1996 was some sort of hoax, or worse, not a law to be obeyed
because federal marijuana laws trump state laws.

As a result, seven years after voters approved Prop. 215, sick,
disabled and dying people are still being arrested, jailed, humiliated
and bankrupted. An ideology of zero tolerance has deprived medical
marijuana patients not only of justice but of life itself.

Contrary to assertions by police and US officials, federal law ought
not to trump state medical marijuana laws, according to the 9th
Circuit Court decision on December 16, 2003. In that decision, the
Court found that "the appellants have demonstrated a strong likelihood
of success on their claim that, as applied to them, the CSA
[Controlled Substances Act of 1970] is an unconstitutional exercise of
Congress' Commerce Clause authority."

On May 14, 2004, District Court Judge Martin J. Jenkins acted upon
this decision by the 9th Circuit Court and granted a preliminary
injunction against the federal government, thereby protecting the
medical marijuana rights of the two patients who are suing the
government in this case.

Just one month later, in the case of County of Santa Cruz et al. v.
Ashcroft, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel issued a temporary
injunction barring the federal government from raiding the marijuana
gardens of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, or WAMM.

The ruling allows the collective to resume cultivation free from the
fear of further federal prosecution. This relief comes 18 months after
a brutal Drug Enforcement Administration raid on WAMM in Santa Cruz,
and a year after the collective's seriously ill members filed suit
against the federal government to stop the law enforcement harassment.

Law enforcement and prosecutors also claim that patients dragged
before the courts possess "too much for personal use." However,
Proposition 215 set only one medical-marijuana possession limit, and
that limit is "for personal medical use."

In 2002, the California Supreme Court affirmed this quantity limit in
People v. Mower. There, the court clearly held that the only quantity
limit or requirement in Proposition 215 is "for personal medical use."

But how much is too much? How much would be too much if your life
depended on it?

Most narcotics officers claim that more than a few ounces of marijuana
per month would be more than is necessary for personal use. In
contrast, the US government allows their legally licensed patients to
consume a pound per month. In Canada, patients such as myself are
licensed to grow and consume up to two pounds per month. Law
enforcement refuses to accept these levels of medical usage, but
patients can and do consume these amounts of cannabis and still lead
productive lives. Indeed, many need it to be able to live at all.

If respect for the law is to mean anything in our society, our elected
officials must set aside their zero tolerance ideology and uphold
California's medical marijuana law - exactly as it was written and
passed by the people of California. Elected officials should begin
tomorrow to implement the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 by taking the
following four specific actions:

1. Stop arresting sick people. Don't authorize budgets or federal
grants that will be used against sick people. Adopt and implement the
Mower Decision to protect sick people from arrest.

2. Stop treating sick people like criminals. According to the Mower
Decision, bona fide medical marijuana patients are entitled to a
special hearing to establish that they have a recommendation or
approval to use medical marijuana from a licensed physician. Unless
police have clear evidence of actual sales, it is unlawful and immoral
to arrest marijuana growers who make claims of medical use.

3. Stop forcing sick people into the black market. Demand that the
federal government take action on the petition filed by Jon Gettman
with the Drug Enforcement Administration on July 27, 1995, and
reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III. That action
alone would solve many of the problems and concerns voiced by law
enforcement and allow patients to go directly to their pharmacist to
obtain their medicine.

4. Start prosecuting those who violate the rights of sick people.
Elected officials must provide legal protection for sick and dying
patients from illegal arrests and prosecutions. To uphold the law,
officials must see to it that police and prosecutors are held
accountable for violating the medical marijuana rights of patients,
caregivers and physicians.

Make no mistake; this issue is no more about marijuana than the Boston
Tea Party was about tea. This is about sick and dying people who are
living in fear that the very people they pay to protect them have
turned against them, all because they use a medicine that the Federal
government's own IOM study says, "there is no clear alternative for
people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by
smoking marijuana, such as pain or AIDS wasting."

Seven years is long enough. It's time to stop hiding behind federal
laws and the failed ideology. The voters have spoken and they have
clearly voted to stop treating medical marijuana patients like
criminals. Medical marijuana is the law; now is the time for law
enforcement and our elected officials to show good faith and stop
arresting sick people.

It is time for our elected officials and police to uphold their oath
of office and uphold the will of the voters who wisely chose to
protect sick people and exempt them from the War on Drugs. It wasn't
difficult for the voters to understand medical marijuana, they voted
by a whopping 56 percent to 44 percent to pass the law. Juries don't
seem to have a problem understanding medical marijuana either. Only
police and prosecutors seem to have difficulty comprehending that
medical marijuana is real and it is the law.

Medical marijuana patients need real justice. They need police and
prosecutors who will respect their rights, their dignity and protect
them from real criminals.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake