420 Magazine Background

Supreme Court to Issue Historic Ruling on Medical Marijuana



Chicago Tribune - November 28, 2000

Drug's Medical Use at Issue; Court Also to Hear Texas Death Case

By Jan Crawford Greenburg
Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Taking up an emotional debate that has pitted law
enforcement against advocates for the terminally ill, the Supreme
Court agreed Monday to decide whether federal drug laws allow
marijuana to be distributed to seriously ill patients for medical use.

The Clinton administration had asked the court to get involved
in the case, arguing that allowing the distribution of marijuana for
medical purposes "threatens the government's ability to enforce the
federal drug laws."

The administration urged the court to reverse a lower court
ruling that had permitted a California cooperative to distribute
the drug to seriously ill patients.

In that ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit
said "medical necessity" could be a defense against federal drug
distribution charges.

To rely on that defense, the appeals court said a distributor
must show the drug served seriously ill patients who faced imminent
harm without marijuana and had no other legal alternatives.

At the administration's request, the Supreme Court agreed in
August to block that decision and prohibit the cooperative from
distributing marijuana until the case was resolved.

Robert Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy
Project, said Monday that the upcoming decision will be the "most
important ruling with regard to medical marijuana in U.S. history."

He said passage of a number of medical marijuana initiatives, as
well as court decisions allowing the drug's medical use, will help
persuade the court to "come down in favor of patients."

Nine states have approved medicinal marijuana laws: Alaska,
Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and
Washington. California's law allows the possession and medical use
of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

But the administration maintains that federal laws do not allow
a defense of medical necessity, regardless of what the state law
Top Bottom