By Alfa · Apr 25, 2004 · ·
  1. Alfa

    Within hours of a decision by U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel
    allowing the Santa Cruz, Ca.-based Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical
    Marijuana to resume growing marijuana and distributing it to its
    patients, Attorney General John Ashcroft took time away from fighting
    the war on terrorism to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the
    federal appellate ruling underlying the judge's decision.

    Judge Fogel's ruling was based on Raich v. Ashcroft which, explains
    Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the Washington,
    D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, was "a case won by patients Angel
    McClary Raich and Diane Monson and their caregivers who argued that
    because their medical marijuana activities were completely
    non-commercial and conducted entirely within California, the Commerce
    Clause as well as the Fifth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments of the U.S.
    Constitution give the federal government no right to intervene."

    Judge Fogel's extension of the protections of Raich to Santa Cruz's
    WAMM collective, Mirken said, was "the first time a court allowed a
    medical marijuana organization to grow marijuana without being subject
    to raids by federal drug agents."

    Over the past three years, the Bush Administration has been fighting a
    multi-front war against marijuana in general and medical marijuana
    specifically: Hundreds of millions have been spent on anti-marijuana
    advertising; the DEA unleashed a series of high profile raids on
    medical marijuana buying and growing collectives; and the Bush's White
    House Office of National Drug Control Policy has dispatched deputy
    directors around the country to testify against medical marijuana
    legislation and fight against medical marijuana legalization

    "During the past 18 months," Mirken told me in a phone interview, "the
    DEA appears to have de-emphasized the raids." Admitting that he was
    speculating on the reasons fo
    r the change in strategy, Mirken allowed
    that since this is an election year, "Gestapo-like behavior unleashed
    by previous raids brought a fair amount of negative publicity to the
    agency. Images of severely-ill people harassed by armed government
    agents is not an image that Karl Rove, the president's top advisor,
    would be happy seeing on television.

    "Which is not to say that John Walters, the drug czar, hasn't been
    fighting tooth and nail against medical marijuana," Mirken added. "Of
    late, Andrea Barthwell, one of a handful of deputy directors at the
    White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, has been going
    around the country denouncing medical marijuana proposals and
    spreading disinformation."

    According to Mirken, one of the patented arguments Barthwell trucks
    out is a claim "there is no support within the medical community for
    the use of medical marijuana. In fact," Mirken points out, "a large
    number of medical and public health organizations including, for
    example, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American
    Nurses Association are on record as supporting legal access to medical
    marijuana with physician's supervision."

    Judge Fogel's ruling stems from a September 5, 2002 raid at the
    collective's marijuana farm by Federal Drug Enforcement Administration
    agents where they not only seized some 167 plants, but they also
    detained several of the group's members. At the time, the DEA raid was
    roundly denounced by Santa Cruz city and county officials, including
    local law enforcement officials.

    According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, "Even
    [California] Attorney General Bill Lockyer protested the raid, firing
    off a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in which he called
    the DEA's actions in Santa Cruz a 'provocative and intrusive incident
    of harassment.'"

    The Fogel decision, which was greeted with great joy by the collective
    and its patients, unfortunately comes too late for some of the
    organization's clients. "This is wonderful news for the patients who
    have really endured a good deal of suffering since the raid,"
    collective attorney and Santa Clara University law Professor Gerald
    Uelmen said. "Since the raid we have lost more than 20 patients, and
    there is no question but that their deaths were more painful than they
    needed to be.

    "The Raich decision was really the breakthrough, but this (decision)
    takes it a step further," Uelmen added. "It says there is no
    difference between a single patient growing their own medicine and a
    collective group assisting each other to achieve exactly the same purpose."

    "This is an incredible victory for us, though we do realize that
    everything is temporary," said Valerie Corral, the founder and
    director of the collective told the Chronicle. "We are so pleased to
    be able to begin our garden again."

    "We are disappointed, but not surprised, that Attorney General
    Ashcroft has chosen to ask the Supreme Court for what amounts to a
    license to attack the sick," said MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia.
    "This administration has waged a war against medical marijuana
    patients that is completely unrestrained by science, compassion or
    sound legal principles. Conservatives should be appalled that the
    Justice Department is arguing that two patients and their caregivers,
    growing and using medical marijuana within California - using
    California seeds, California soil, California water and California
    equipment, and engaging in no commercial activity whatsoever - are
    somehow engaged in 'interstate commerce.'

    "We hope the Supreme Court will let the Ninth Circuit's decision
    stand," Kampia added, "but seriously ill patients shouldn't have to
    depend on the courts for protection. Congress can and should end this
    cruel federal war on the sick immediately."

    Santa Cruz's Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana has said they
    intend to replant their garden immediately, and they should be able to
    go ahead without fear of the DEA. According to Mirken, "The Supreme
    Court could decide as early as June whether they will hear the
    government's appeal of the Raich decision, but until and unless the
    court actually overturns Raich, Judge Fogel's ruling should stand and
    the members of WAMM will be safe."

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  1. OneDiaDem
    Nice. Hopefully it will continue to go forward, not backwards.
  2. bubaloo
    it would be better if it went upwards
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