A federal judge in San Francisco spent little time Friday on a bid by the
Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative to raise new arguments about why it
should be allowed to dispense medical marijuana.

Instead U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer devoted most of a hearing to
discussing how to respond to the Justice Department's request to close out
the case in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the club last year.

Breyer opened the session by saying he wanted to figure out whether a
permanent injunction against the club would be needed in addition to a
summary judgment requested by the government.

"Assuming I enter judgment in favor of the government, is it necessary to
enter an injunction?" Breyer asked Justice Department attorney Mark Quinlivan.

Quinlivan said the department did want a permanent injunction to prevent
the four-year-old case from dragging out several more years.

While seeming to give scant encouragement to the club, Breyer took the case
under submission at the end of the hearing and said he will rule at a later
date on requests from both sides.

The Oakland cooperative is one of a number of medical marijuana clubs that
sprang up after voters passed an initiative, Proposition 215, that allows
patients to use marijuana upon a doctor's recommendation.

The federal case before Breyer began as six civil lawsuits filed by the
Justice Department in 1998 to halt the marijuana operations of six Northern
California clubs. The suits claimed that federal anti-drug laws override
the state law.

Last year, the Oakland club lost its initial attempt at a defense

when the U.S. Supreme Court, overruling a federal appeals court in San
Francisco, declared that federal law does not allow a"medical necessity"
exception for providing marijuana to seriously ill patients.

The club has now asked Breyer to consider exceptions based on other
grounds, such as a patient's right to seek medical treatment and the
state's right to regulate commerce within its own borders.

The cannabis club wants Breyer to dissolve or modify a preliminary
injunction now in effect, while the government has asked for a summary
judgment and a permanent injunction.

The state Attorney General's Office also weighed in on the case Friday,
with Special Deputy Attorney General Taylor Carey urging Breyer to try to
reconcile the federal and state laws in a way that would enable patients to
possess marijuana.

Outside of court, the Oakland club's executive director Jeff Jones said the
cooperative is continuing to identify patients and conduct educational
activities. He said the club has 10,000 member patients who have updated
their files within the past year.

Two of the other clubs sued by the Justice Department - the Marin Alliance
for Medical Marijuana and the Ukiah Cannabis Buyer's Club - still exist,
but have never been found to have violated the injunction.

Two others, the Cannabis Cultivators Cooperative of San Francisco and the
Santa Cruz Cannabis Buyers Club, no longer exist, but remain defendants in
the government's summary judgment motion, attorneys said. The sixth club,
the former Flower Therapy Medical Marijuana Club in San Francisco, is
defunct and has been dismissed from the case.


Pubdate: Mon, 22 Apr 2002
Source: Berkeley Daily Planet (US CA)
Copyright: 2002 The Berkeley Daily Planet
Contact: opinion@berkeleydailyplanet.net
Website: Local News and Opinion from The Berkeley Daily Planet
Details: Overload Warning
Author: Daily Planet Wire
Top Bottom