A landmark decision for all Californian's quietly made history on August 20th in a Santa Cruz courtroom.
For the first time since 1996, when the Compassionate Use Act was passed, the federal authorities have been charged with violating the 10th Amendment for harassing medical marijuana patients and state authorities.
The case of Santa Cruz vs. Mukasey, was heard by U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel, who said the Bush Administration's request to dismiss a lawsuit by Santa Cruz city and county officials, and the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), wasn't going to happen.
In a recent telephone interview with Alan Hopper, an ACLU counsel familiar with the case, I asked him what came next?
”The plaintiff will get a get a court-ordered discovery document that will allow them to get documents, and even depositions, from the federal authorities to support their claims,” he explained.
So now it's the city, county, and WAMM's turn to prove their case against the federal government. The court has recognized a concerted effort by the federal government to sabotage state medical marijuana laws, which violates the U.S. Constitution. The significance of this ruling, the first of its kind, cannot be overstated.
California voters may finally get what they asked for a dozen years ago. When the court said that the federal government had gone out of its way to arrest and prosecute some of the most legitimate doctors, patients, caregivers, and dispensary owners that had been working with state and local officials, it finally drew a line-in-the sand.
An example of the federal authorities violations was their pursuit of WAMM. This non-profit group has been around for many years, and has been fully supported by the city and county of Santa Cruz. They have been referred to, by officials, as the model medical marijuana patient's collective.
The group was functioning so smoothly that the city even allowed them to hold regular meetings to distribute marijuana to its patients on the steps of city hall! The federal agents still went after them, which brought about this court decision.
When the ACLU filed this lawsuit to stop them from targeting medical marijuana providers and patients, they opened a door that may finally lead to no federal interference in California's medical marijuana law.
We must not forget that medical marijuana brings in about $100 million each year in tax revenue. Conferring total legitimacy to the law will allow this cash flow to continue, and hopefully, increase over time.
When the judge ruled the feds were threatening physicians who recommended marijuana, he set the stage for regaining patient's rights. The ruling clearly pointed out that the feds were also threatening government officials who issue medical marijuana cards, and interfered with municipal zoning plans.
In the summation, the court found that, “There was a calculated pattern of selective arrests and prosecutions by the federal government with the intent to render California's medical marijuana laws impossible to implement and therefore forced Californian's and their political subdivisions to re-criminalize medical marijuana.”
In a recent column, I mentioned California's Attorney General Jerry Brown had passed out an 11-page directive that all law agencies were to go by. I expressed concern that the federal authorities would ignore those guidelines, but upon finding out about this recent ruling I now have some cause for hope.
It sure sounded like Hopper was looking forward to the next phase, and he seemed confident that positive change lay ahead. Asked which presidential candidate would be more amenable to upholding medical marijuana laws, he cleverly replied that he thought they both would be willing to work for change. He could be right too. This is a year of change.
This on-going battle with the federal authorities ignoring California's laws has been well-documented in the past. Why hasn't there been more coverage for such an epic ruling? Its potential as breakthrough legislation is something all Californian's should know about in my opinion.
The war against medical marijuana hasn't been won yet, but this could be the breakthrough everybody's waited for. At the core of the war waged by the federal government against the voter's will, is the failed War on Drugs by the Bush Administration. It's about time someone told them to back off.
As It Stands, we can score this as a successful round for state's rights.
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