State Awaits Decision on Medicinal Marijuana

  State Awaits Decision on Medicinal Marijuana

Posted by CN Staff on May 19, 2005 at 07:50:49 PT
By Vanessa Stumpf, Aggie Staff Writer 
Source: California Aggie 

California --  A highly anticipated Supreme Court decision on the future of medicinal marijuana, expected any day, could provide definitive guidance on an issue that has been anything but straightforward.The decision in Ashcroft v. Raich could aid California, embroiled in conflicting opinion over whether federal or state law should dictate the use of medicinal marijuana.
At the center of the California’s controversy is state Attorney General Bill Lockyer. Advocacy groups for medicinal marijuana like Oakland’s Americans for Safe Access allege that Lockyer has failed to protect citizens’ rights under the Compassionate Use Act. That initiative, passed in 1996, allowed Californians to obtain and use medicinal marijuana with the recommendation of a physician for ailments like cancer, AIDS, anorexia, glaucoma and arthritis.  “We would like to see a legal opinion from Lockyer issued clarifying law enforcement’s obligation to follow state over federal law,” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of ASA. “Elected officials in California have written Lockyer and asked him to clarify the issue of state’s obligation to follow state law and he has refused to do so.”  While some pro-medicinal marijuana advocates would like to see individual county law enforcement following state law under Lockyer’s orders, his office says it is out of their hands.  “Where we really need to go is to change federal law, that’s where the problem is,” said Teresa Schilling, spokesperson for Lockyer. “The conflict is with former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, not Bill Lockyer.”  Ashcroft’s opposition to California’s law, along with Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Karen Tandy, brought a lawsuit from Angel McClary Raich of Oakland in 2002, charging that Ashcroft and the federal government had “unconstitutionally exceeded their authority” by seizing her privately grown medicinal marijuana and then allegedly arresting, prosecuting, and harassing California medicinal marijuana patients and caregivers.  Sherer called those actions scare tactics against people trying to utilize medicinal marijuana, and argued that even in the aftermath of a possible Supreme Court ruling in favor of Raich, a culture of resistance from law enforcement against medicinal marijuana could remain.  According to Schilling, Lockyer wants to uphold California’s law to its fullest potential, but also wants to give local county law enforcement the discretion to enforce this law as they wish. Conflicting legal opinions coming from different levels of government have made this difficult.  “As long as medicinal marijuana is fully illegal at a federal level it will be difficult for local law enforcement and puts pressure on them to interpret the law,” said Schilling.  Schilling suggested that especially until there is a clarification of law, there should be a statewide identification system that will prove to law enforcement throughout the state when a citizen is a legitimate user of medicinal marijuana. This could help decrease complaints from patients who feel they are unjustly treated when they leave their home counties and show unfamiliar identification.  Davis Police Department spokesperson Lt. Colleen Turay says if there is any doubt of the legitimacy of using marijuana for medicinal purposes, cases are deferred to the Yolo District Attorney’s office.  “If the use seems reasonable we won’t do anything,” said Turay. “If there is no suspicion that this isn’t somebody selling or using it inappropriately and there’s a medical card, we won’t have any problems if it’s within the home.”  Turay noted that if someone is found with marijuana for any usage in a vehicle, police will make an arrest and seize the drugs as a case of driving under the influence.  “If you need to use marijuana, you need to do it at home,” Turay said.  California continues to wait for a Supreme Court decision that could serve as the clarification needed for a highly controversial issue.  “If we win, this changes everything,” said Sherer. “If not, it changes nothing.”Note: Supreme Court case could clarify local issues.Source: California Aggie, The (UC Davis, CA Edu)Author: Vanessa Stumpf, Aggie Staff WriterPublished: May 19, 2005Copyright: 2005 The California AggieContact: editor californiaaggie.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Americans For Safe Access Raich v. Ashcroft News Marijuana Decision Expected Any Day Really Consider Cannabis My Miracle and The Constitution

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Comment #4 posted by mayan on May 19, 2005 at 17:33:04 PT
Moment of Truth
Americans of all political persuasions will soon find out just what the government thinks of state's rights. We've put them on the spot and they can only lose this battle. On the other hand, we can only win.Either the supremes will abide by The Constitution or they will be exposed as corporate puppets for all to see! 
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Comment #3 posted by Truth on May 19, 2005 at 09:16:56 PT
What a jerk
“If you need to use marijuana, you need to do it at home,” Turay said.What an idiot. If a person goes on a three day road trip they can not medicate? Passengers can't medicate? What if they live in a motorhome?This guy is mean, plain and simple. What gives him the legal right to ammend the law as he feels fit?
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Comment #2 posted by duzt on May 19, 2005 at 08:47:55 PT
california constitution is clear
The state constitution says that state law enforcement must enforce state law. They aren't federal officers so if they follow federal law and not state law, they are breaking the laws of the state they not only live in but are also sworn to uphold. These people just need to keep getting sued until they get it. Money is the only thing they understand. 
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Comment #1 posted by Max Flowers on May 19, 2005 at 08:01:18 PT
“As long as medicinal marijuana is fully illegal at a federal level it will be difficult for local law enforcement and puts pressure on them to interpret the law,” said Schilling.Boy, this kind of transparent crap gets old. Local law enforcement's job is to enforce LOCAL law. Not to worry about federal law. They are *choosing* to worry about federal law because they don't like cannabis, but in actual fact there is no obligation, requirement or other compelling reason to consider federal law in the day-to-day business of local law enforcement. There is *supposed* to be a separation! That's why they're LOCAL law enforcement. If they are going to worry about the ramifications of federal law all the time, then they are nothing more than unconstitutional and illegal extensions of federal law enforcement and what we have here is not the United States of America, but rather the Federal State of America.
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