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SnakebyteXX
11-29-2004, 07:33 AM
[ QUOTE ]
Court to Hear Marijuana Case
Legality of Cultivating Plant for Medical Use Is at Issue

By Charles Lane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 29, 2004; Page A02

Local sheriff's deputies and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents disagreed when they converged on Diane Monson's house in Oroville, Calif., two years ago.

The county cops accepted Monson's explanation for growing six marijuana plants: She had a doctor's permission to smoke it for back pain, so the pot was legal under the state's 1996 "medical marijuana" law.


But the DEA agents insisted that growing marijuana is still against federal law. They seized the plants and destroyed them.

Today that federal-state clash continues at the Supreme Court, where the justices will hear oral arguments on whether the Constitution permits the federal government to take action against those who use homegrown marijuana for medicinal reasons within states where it is legal to do so.

The case is the third medical pot case to reach the Supreme Court since voters overwhelmingly approved California's Compassionate Use Act. But the legal issues this time give the case importance well beyond the 11 states, mostly in the West, that since 1996 have eased or eliminated penalties for medical use of marijuana.

Among these states is Maryland, which last year set a maximum fine of $100 for medical users of less than an ounce of pot.

It has wider implications because Monson claims that federal drug busts of people such as her exceed Washington's authority under the commerce clause of the Constitution, which gives Congress the power to regulate trade "among the several states."

Last year, the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled 2 to 1 that Monson was right. If the Supreme Court agrees, it could limit the federal government's power over not just the cultivation and use of marijuana, but also other activities.

Much modern government regulation exists because the Supreme Court articulated a broad definition of interstate commerce during the 20th century. This permitted the court to uphold, as exercises of Congress's commerce clause power, a wide range of national laws -- from the economic policies of the New Deal to the civil rights era ban on racial segregation in hotels and restaurants.

Perhaps the key ruling came in 1942, when the court held that the Roosevelt administration could enforce acreage controls against an Ohio wheat farmer who claimed his crop was entirely for his own use.

The court said that even subsistence farming could change the overall supply and price of grain; this "substantial effect on interstate commerce" triggered Congress's authority.

But in more recent years, the court has tightened its definition of interstate commerce.

In 1995, the court struck down a federal ban on gun possession within 1,000 feet of a school, ruling that Congress's claims that school gun violence had a "substantial effect" on the economy were implausible.

And in 2000, the court struck down a federal law giving women a right to sue rapists in federal court, ruling that such violence was not, "in any sense of the phrase, economic activity."

Monson and her co-plaintiffs -- Angel McClary Raich, an Oakland woman who suffers from a variety of painful chronic disorders, and two people identified as John Doe One and John Doe Two, who give Raich pot free of charge -- argue that these recent cases favor them, because using small amounts of marijuana they grow for themselves, or passing it along for "compassionate" reasons, cannot affect the broader market for the drug.

"This case is and always has been about federalism and state sovereignty," Monson's lawyers argue in their brief.

But the Bush administration counters that even small-scale use of a fungible commodity such as marijuana can affect price and quantity in the black market.

"[E]xcepting drug activity for personal use or free distribution from the sweep of [federal drug laws] would discourage the consumption of lawful controlled substances and would undermine Congress's intent to regulate the drug market comprehensively to protect public health and safety," the administration argues in its brief.

The federalism issue in the case has created unusual alliances. Three conservative Deep South states, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, have filed a friend of the court brief supporting the marijuana users on states' rights grounds. "California is entitled to make for itself the tough policy choices that affect its citizens," the states' brief argues.

Legal analysts say the likeliest supporter on the court for the marijuana users may also be its most conservative member: Justice Clarence Thomas, who, though a harsh critic of drug abuse, has also written that the court must narrowly define Congress's commerce clause powers.

Meanwhile, a liberal environmentalist group, the Community Rights Council, filed a brief in support of the Bush administration, noting the group's interest in "ensuring . . . legislative flexibility to address national concerns."

In two previous cases at the Supreme Court, medical marijuana advocates have a split record.

In 2001, the court ruled 8 to 0 that there is no "medical necessity" exception to federal drug laws against producing and distributing marijuana, so California's "cannabis clubs" cannot escape prosecution by saying they save lives.

But in 2003, the court refused to hear the Bush administration's appeal of a 9th Circuit ruling that said doctors have a right to discuss marijuana as a treatment option with their patients. That left the 9th Circuit ruling on the books.

Thus, today's case is critical to the medical marijuana movement. With cannabis clubs unable to distribute pot legally, a doctor's right to recommend it would be meaningless unless users or their friends can grow it themselves.

The case is Ashcroft v. Raich, No. 03-1454. A decision is expected by July.

<hr /></blockquote>

Washington Post Article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A18420-2004Nov28.html)

SecaucusFats
11-29-2004, 07:59 AM
It seems crazy to me for the government to say that it's OK to dope someone up with powerful opiates like morphine, but denies people the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

For people on chemo, marijuana has been shown to ease nausea and stimulate the appetite.

Going further, I believe that Marijuana should be legalized, regulated, and taxed. We spend far too much in terms of money and resources locking up people for marijuana. Alcohol and tobacco are far more dangerous yet we don't go locking users up for indulging.

SF &lt; Card carrying member of NORML

SPetty
11-29-2004, 09:40 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SecaucusFats:</font><hr> I believe that Marijuana should be legalized, regulated, and taxed.

SF &lt; Card carrying member of NORML <hr /></blockquote>I don't know why everything always has to be taxed... /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif And you should be able to grow your own without regulation or taxation.

So, why is NORML such a failure? I remember NORML from 30 years ago. (30 years ago? Geez, I'm OLD!) Why haven't they accomplished anything that I've ever heard of towards the reform of antiquated, outdated, unpopular marijuana laws?

Is there anyone who truly believes that personal use of marijuana should be illegal? Why?

Wally_in_Cincy
11-29-2004, 10:49 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SPetty:</font><hr>...So, why is NORML such a failure?....<hr /></blockquote>

Because half of the people don't realize that marijuana is not as bad as it has been proclaimed to be because they have never used it. To them it's just "scary", sort of like guns are to non-gun owners.

Then there are the people who used it when younger and now are against its legalization. They are just plain hypocrites.

So no politician dare suggest its legality lest they be labeled as an apologist for the druggies. This is one area where I disagree adamantly with the Religious Right.

I have not touched the stuff in almost 20 yeras but it should be legalized, no ifs, ands, or roaches.

catscradle
11-29-2004, 11:10 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Wally_in_Cincy:</font><hr> ...

Then there are the people who used it when younger and now are against its legalization. They are just plain hypocrites...

<hr /></blockquote>

No, they aren't necessarily. I used pot in the past and no longer smoke (tobacco or pot) or drink all for the same reasons. I've come to the conclusion that all three (tobacco, alcohol, &amp; pot) have done me harm and would have continued to do me harm. I've personally not objection to pot being legalized nor do I care if it is legal or not. However, I can certainly understand that somebody who used in the past could come to the conclusion that pot was a bad idea for them and that it is sufficiently bad to warrant being illegal. I don't agree with them, but I don't see them as hypocrits neccessarily. Many people change their opinion and therefore their behavior about a variety of subjects, they aren't all hypocrites.
IMHO.

highsea
11-29-2004, 01:46 PM
The case isn't about legalizing pot, it's about medicinal use and whether or not a doctor's (legally upheld) right to prescribe it can be effectively nullified by making it illegal to produce or distribute for medicinal purposes.

Medicine ultimately boils down to anectodal results. Everyone metabolises things differently, so it's the results that count. That's why they call it a practice, and not a science. For some people pot improves their condition of life. When my father was dying of cancer, I supplied him with pot to ease his suffering. It was a lot better for him than stuffing him full of morphine.

If a doctor thinks that pot will help a patient, he should be permitted to prescribe it and measure the effectiveness of the therapy.

The case is not about the merits of being stoned, it's about whether states have the right to pass effective medicinal marijuana laws. I say they do.

Invoking the commerce clause is legal mumbo-jumbo, imo, because there is no legal interstate commerce in marijuana, and trying to regulate the black market price of an illegal substance is an excersize in futility. Especially one that grows in a pot of soil.

-CM

SPetty
11-29-2004, 02:04 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote highsea:</font><hr> The case isn't about legalizing pot, it's about medicinal use and whether or not a doctor's (legally upheld) right to prescribe it can be effectively nullified by making it illegal to produce or distribute for medicinal purposes.

If a doctor thinks that pot will help a patient, he should be permitted to prescribe it and measure the effectiveness of the therapy.<hr /></blockquote>Or heroin. I was surprised to learn that heroin is not a legal choice for doctors to prescribe. It's my understanding that heroin is one of the most powerful pain killers available, with much fewer negative side effects than morphine, but it's not an option because it's illegal. If true, that's just wrong. A dying man is going to become addicted to heroin under a doctor's care? So what?

Of course, the insurance companies are now deciding what drugs people take for certain conditions anyway...

Deeman2
11-29-2004, 02:27 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SPetty:</font><hr>

So, why is NORML such a failure? I remember NORML from 30 years ago. (30 years ago? Geez, I'm OLD!) Why haven't they accomplished anything that I've ever heard of towards the reform of antiquated, outdated, unpopular marijuana laws?

<font color="blue"> They kept getting stoned and missing the meetings... </font color>

Is there anyone who truly believes that personal use of marijuana should be illegal? <font color="blue">Not me... </font color> Why? <hr /></blockquote> <font color="blue"> I don't smoke it but don't see any reason a normal adult should not be able to use it. </font color>

Deeman

kyle
11-29-2004, 04:09 PM
IMO it has a lot to do with the pharmicutical and the money they would lose.

highsea
11-29-2004, 04:27 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SPetty:</font><hr>... I was surprised to learn that heroin is not a legal choice for doctors to prescribe. It's my understanding that heroin is one of the most powerful pain killers available, with much fewer negative side effects than morphine, but it's not an option because it's illegal. If true, that's just wrong. A dying man is going to become addicted to heroin under a doctor's care? So what? <hr /></blockquote>In essense it is legal for doctors to prescribe heroin, in the form of dilaudid (hydromorphone hydrochloride) or oxycontin (oxycodone hydrochloride), just to name a couple. They are just synthetic forms. Heroin is a street drug, and so is not pharmaceutically safe, but it does have it's pharmaceutical analogues.

Milder forms are Percodan, Percocet, Tylox, Demerol, etc. The Generic names are hydrocodone or oxycodone, and sometimes have boosters or time release agents incorporated.

Basically they are all opium derivatives, and it goes about like this: morphine is about ten times as strong as opium, and heroin is about ten times as strong as morphine. That's an oversimplification, but it makes the point. As dependency increases, the dosage has to be increased accordingly to acheive the same effect.

Opiates on their own do not do any physiological damage. They have a perfect chemical link up with the brain, which is what gives them their high euphoric effect. What they do if abused, is replace the natural endorphins that the brain produces when "euphoria" is called for. This happens fairly quickly, i.e., if you were to take 10cc's of 1/4 grain morphine sulphate, twice a day for three days in a row, the process would be well underway. It takes a while for the brain to kick start production of these endorphins when the opiates are removed. That's withdrawal. Once the brain is back in production, the withdrawal symptoms go away.

In a terminal case there will be no need to "kick the habit", so addiction is not a concern.

-CM~~~likes opiates, but knows to be very careful!

SnakebyteXX
11-29-2004, 05:06 PM
Update:

Justices react skeptically medical-marijuana arguments

Jim Puzzanghera

Mercury News Washington Bureau


WASHINGTON - Several U.S. Supreme Court justices reacted skeptically Monday to the legal arguments of two chronically ill California women seeking immunity from federal prosecution for smoking marijuana because state voters have approved its use for medical purposes.

The attorney for Angel Raich, 39, of Oakland and Diane Monson, of Butte County, argued that the federal government was violating the federal constitution in trying to prevent the two women from using marijuana prescribed by doctors, as allowed in California and 10 other states. The marijuana the women smoke to lessen severe chronic pain and avoid reactions from traditional drugs is grown only for their use and therefore is not an interstate commodity that the federal government can regulate, said their attorney, Randy Barnett.

But although several members of the court, particularly conservatives, feel strongly about preserving the rights of states, they and other justices appeared critical of Barnett's arguments that medical marijuana users should be immune from federal law that bans the drug as a harmful and addictive controlled substance.

Justice Antonin Scalia said it seemed logical that some of the estimated 100,000 Californians who use medical marijuana would buy it in the illegal market, making it an economic commodity that Congress could regulate. And Justice Stephen Breyer said people who believe marijuana should be allowed for medicinal use -- a point of debate in the medical community -- should take their case to the federal Food and Drug Administration first.

``Medicine by regulation is better than medicine by referendum,'' Breyer said.

The case has ramifications in 10 other states that allow marijuana use for medicinal purposes despite a federal ban on the drug.

Paul Clement, who argued the case for the federal government as the acting solicitor general, said allowing ``any little island of lawful possession'' of marijuana would undermine the intent of Congress to ban the drug's use.


San Jose Mercury News (http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/10297385.htm?1c)