Pot Group Sues To Make Feds Eat Words

Pot Group Sues To Make Feds Eat Words
Posted by CN Staff on July 11, 2007 at 21:05:32 PT
By Matthew Hirsch, The Recorder
Source: Cal Law
California -- Medical marijuana advocates and federal prosecutors have never agreed on whether the drug has medical value. Now, an Oakland, Calif.-based advocacy group wants a court order that would force the feds to see it their way. Americans for Safe Access is trying to use a little-known Clinton-era law to make federal agencies take back statements about marijuana -- for example, that pot has "no currently accepted medical use." The group says this "misinformation" costs it time and money to refute.
But before the nonprofit can put any experts on the witness stand, it has to overcome a challenge to its standing to sue. The government's motion to dismiss the case is scheduled to be heard today before U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California.ASA sued in February under the Information Quality Act. That law calls on federal agencies to maximize the "quality, objectivity, utility and integrity" of information they send out to the public, and it includes an administrative process for people who seek to correct inaccuracies.In 2001 the Drug Enforcement Administration published a statement in the Federal Register saying marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in the United States.ASA, claiming that the government's position on medical marijuana is "patently false," petitioned the Department of Health and Human Services, so far unsuccessfully, to correct the statements in its analysis."Of course courts are going to be leery to jump into the politics of applying science" to public policy, said Davis Wright Tremaine partner Thomas Burke, a San Francisco lawyer who is not working on the case. The First Amendment lawyer notes that if the ASA's challenge survives the dismissal motion, activists of all stripes who oppose government policies may want to give the strategy a try. In the past Burke has helped sue to force the federal government to release records about "no fly" lists."The use of the statute would be very important to watch, given all of the headline-grabbing claims that the Bush administration has essentially used politics to trump science," he noted. To get any satisfaction out of the courts, though, ASA first has to overcome the government's standing argument.In court papers, Department of Justice attorney Steven Bressler argues that Alsup should dismiss ASA v. Department of Health and Human Services, 07-01049, because ASA hadn't identified any members who suffered any harm due to the "allegedly incorrect statement," and because the group lacks standing to sue on its own behalf.To sue for itself, and not its members, Bressler said the issue in the suit has to be "germane to the plaintiff's organizational purpose." He points the court to ASA's Web site, noting that its mission there was described as "ensuring safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic uses and research." Suing over alleged "misinformation," he argues, won't further that goal. "It would not make marijuana use any more (or less) safe. Nor would a correction change the fact that DEA continues to list marijuana as a schedule I [illegal] drug," he wrote. In an e-mail, Bressler said he wasn't authorized to discuss the case further outside of court.ASA has countered in its own court papers that its stated purpose is broader, and includes providing medical information to patients, attorneys, health and medical professionals and policymakers throughout the United States.In a brief by its lawyer, Stanford law professor Alan Morrison, ASA argues that it can satisfy the standing requirements by alleging that the government's statements increased the resources ASA had to spend on its work.According to Morrison, the group has spent more than $100,000 and hundreds of hours of staff time combating the government's position. A favorable decision in court would reduce the need to spend that money, he added. Even though a favorable ruling wouldn't legalize marijuana, he said it could encourage people to lobby Congress to reform the drug laws. "There's lots of perfectly lawful uses of that information," he said. Note: If group can overcome standing challenge, other would-be litigants might mimic strategy to oppose variety of federal policies.Source: Cal Law (CA)Author: Matthew Hirsch, The RecorderPublished: July 12, 2007Copyright: 2007 ALM Properties, Inc.Website: Articles & Web Sites:Americans For Safe Access Marijuana Activists Cite Little-Known Law Is Sued Over Position on Marijuana
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Comment #22 posted by potpal on July 15, 2007 at 05:33:37 PT
Hope #19
Good point.Never thought of that angle but makes perfect sense. When you remove a valuable component of nature, other components break down and wilt. Take for instance the removal of the wolf or bear, the predator who leaves remains of kills that are important to lesser species for survival. We've now come to understand that. Take away the wolf and the lesser species go when with them. The removal of hemp must have had (and still having) a silent but devastating effect on many critters in general.
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Comment #21 posted by whig on July 14, 2007 at 14:43:22 PT
There's a lot of fruit trees around here, sometimes just hanging over the sidewalk so it would be easy enough for someone to take one right off the branch. I wouldn't do that because I'm not that hungry but if someone who needed to eat took a fruit I hope it wouldn't make the owner too angry.It's really a shame someone stole your whole tree, though.
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Comment #20 posted by whig on July 14, 2007 at 14:19:48 PT
I'm doing alright. It's hard to talk about it in too much detail. It's a good place to stand if you want some leverage to be able to promote peace.
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Comment #19 posted by Hope on July 14, 2007 at 13:50:56 PT
Birds and other wildlife.
I really am worried about them. I think hemp restriction may be part of the problem. Of course, cars, trucks, motorcycles, and airplanes running over and into them by the millions doesn't help. I believe the hemp weed could help the wild and the not so wild. It needs to be planted, before it's too late to do anything at all, but watch the last specimens die in some "sanctuary" somewhere.
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Comment #18 posted by Hope on July 14, 2007 at 13:45:16 PT
Bird people...the .Audobon Society people...
need to speak out with the hemp people.
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Comment #17 posted by Hope on July 14, 2007 at 12:48:57 PT
Whig. "one year ago today "
Wow. You must be well settled in by now. It's been a far better year for you, I think, than the year before.You are doing well? I'm hoping?I've been thinking about what you said the other day about the cannabis hemp plant being acceptable landscaping. I think you may be right about that.The cannabis/hemp plant is beautiful. It would make great screens and backgrounds. It would be good so for the earth and it's creatures. It would be good for the birds and animals. We're losing too many birds. We need to plant berries and hemp and sunflowers and whatever attracts them and nourishes them. They are in trouble. We are in trouble. There really needs to be hemp for the birds. Really. Really. Really.A hemp plant should be a part of any bird or butterfly
garden.We can have Oleander and many other actually poisonous plants in our gardens. For the sake of the earth and her creatures....we will have cannabis hemp plants growing all over the world, someday. I'm sure of it.People won't steal or bother them. Why should they?Well....I did have a pecan tree stolen out of my yard many years ago. It was a fine expensive, grafted specimen. I'd saved for it. I was so happy about it. I set it out perfectly. Went to work the next day. Came home...and my tree was nowhere to be seen and the earth was patted smooth back over the hole.
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Comment #16 posted by whig on July 14, 2007 at 12:11:13 PT
Max Flowers
I'll contact you off-list. Do you know one year ago today is when my wife and I arrived in Berkeley? The restaurant I'm thinking of is actually right next to the Thai place that we went that wasn't very good. There's also a good Vietnamese/Thai place that I go to sometimes nearby. I mostly go where I can get to on foot, though. Plenty of options around the neighborhood, unless I've got a reason to go elsewhere.
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on July 13, 2007 at 07:41:39 PT
Obama said marijuana is against federal law and that is true. We can go around and around in circles over state's rights but the bottom line the law must be changed on a federal level. That is a statement not a condemnation. That's a fact so he knows how to solve the problem if he becomes our next president. He is a thinker and cares about our civil liberties. I check out Obama's web site and he has really big threads and Clinton barely has any comments and she only allows nice comments. Obama allows republican trolls to hammer his site and I have no idea how he takes it. 
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on July 12, 2007 at 18:48:30 PT
I've seen that e-mail before. I don't take it like other might. He isn't hostile towards medical marijuana so that is a good beginning. I want a Democrat to win and whoever gets up there and can beat Clinton is what I am looking for. I don't want Clinton because she really is more of a republican then a democrat. I want to see change in my lifetime and we don't need Clinton. 
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Comment #13 posted by RevrayGreen on July 12, 2007 at 18:38:42 PT
OT: Obama totes same rhetoric to constituent
this forwarded to me from another advocate.No chance on
getting my vote, it goes to one willing to make change, or who has already enacted medical marijuana guess.senator_obama Jul 11, 2007 Dear Steve: Thank you for contacting me regarding the legalization of marijuana. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this matter. I am aware of the arguments that legalizing marijuana would make the drug more "controlled" or safer, and that it may curb the violence associated with the sale of an illegal substance. I also appreciate that many physicians believe that medicinal marijuana can be helpful to some patients. Currently, Illinois state law prohibits the use of marijuana for medical purposes unless the user has applied for permission and proven their need for use. (say what ?)As you may know, the Supreme Court last year issued a ruling on medical marijuana, deciding on a 6-3 vote that the Federal government has authority to override state laws that allow for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Federal law prohibits the possession or cultivation of marijuana for any purpose, including medicinal uses, and no exceptions have been made on the national level. Again, thank you for writing. Please make sure to keep in touch. Sincerely, Barack Obama 
United States Senator 
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Comment #12 posted by Max Flowers on July 12, 2007 at 12:43:48 PT
whig (off topic)
Sorry, I missed your post about the Indian restaurant in the other thread until today. I'm posting here because I'm thinking you may not return to that thread.Sure, I always like to know about good restaurants... I haven't been down in your area much at all lately, but let me know and maybe we can get together next time and eat there? Does it stand out from the many many other Indian restaurants in Berkeley? Have you tried Udupi Palace on University for vegetarian Indian? It's really good, only been there once though about 2 years ago.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on July 12, 2007 at 12:34:37 PT
Press Release from MPP
Medical Marijuana Patient, Caregiver to Congress: Federal Policy Lacks 'Scientific Rationale'***July 12, 2007House Judiciary Committee Member Grills DEA for Hindering Medical Marijuana ResearchWASHINGTON, D.C.  House Judiciary Committee members grilled a Drug Enforcement Administration official today in the new Congress's first oversight hearing on federal law enforcement's role regarding medical marijuana.Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) questioned DEA's Joseph Rannazzisi over the administration's suppression of a University of Massachusetts botanist's application to grow marijuana for research. After years of stonewalling, the DEA's own administrative law judge issued a nonbinding decision earlier this year that the application should be approved. Despite Rep. Nadler's request that the DEA commit to ruling on the application by the end of the Bush administration, Rannazzisi declined to state any specific timeline for the determination.The committee also heard testimony from Valerie Corral, a Santa Cruz, Calif., medical marijuana patient and co-founder of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a cooperative that provides medicine to authorized patients. Despite the co-op's legality under state law and the support of the county government, the DEA raided her home in 2002, confiscating WAMM's supply of medical marijuana and other personal property."It is unconscionable for federal agencies to continue to put politically expedient promotion of reefer madness before irrefutable medical science and the will and best interest of the American people," she submitted to the committee. "The well-being of thousands of seriously ill Americans backed by the opinion of the vast majority of their countrymen demands that medical marijuana be freed from federal interference."The hearing marked an important turning point for advocates pressing the federal government to protect patients who use medical marijuana with their doctors' recommendation from arrest, said Aaron Houston, MPP's director of federal policy and the nation's only fulltime federal lobbyist for marijuana policy."For too long, federal law enforcement has been allowed to run wild in its persecution of medical marijuana patients, ignoring both medical science and the will of voters," he said. "Today, the House Judiciary Committee sent a message that these agencies do not operate without oversight."With more than 23,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit: http://www.MarijuanaPolicy.org
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on July 12, 2007 at 12:31:15 PT
Related Article from CBS 5
SF Judge To Decide Fate Of Medicinal Pot Lawsuit***July 12, 2007 
A Bay Area advocacy group that filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government's position that marijuana has no accepted medical value faced the government's motion to dismiss the case Thursday in San Francisco.Oral arguments were heard on a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed in February by Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access, spokesman Kris Hermes said Thursday.Patient advocates argued on behalf of the nonprofit and its efforts to bring the lawsuit against the federal government on the basis that the feds have issued misinformation on medical marijuana.Americans for Safe Access filed the suit based on the Data Quality Act, which was passed in 2000 under the Clinton administration. The act requires government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration to develop policies based on sound science.Those backing the misinformation lawsuit presented U.S. District Judge William Alsup, of the Northern District of California, with multiple scientific studies that support the nonprofit's claim of marijuana's medicinal worth, according Hermes.Americans for Safe Access previously filed a motion for summary judgment in the case before the government filed its motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Hermes said in a statement. A hearing on the motion for summary judgment is scheduled for August 23.Alsup is expected to make a judgment on the case in the next several weeks.Copyright: 2007 CBS 5
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Comment #9 posted by rainbow on July 12, 2007 at 11:05:09 PT
The herb PDA and yes I saw one in the library yesterday has reference to the medicine cannabis.
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Comment #8 posted by Max Flowers on July 12, 2007 at 11:04:21 PT
This is why...
...I believe that the answer is a class action lawsuit filed by people on behalf of THE people, not one filed by an activist organization. Morally, of course DOJ's position is bankrupt, but technically, legally, they are probably right. In other words, they (ASA) are firing their weapon from the wrong place. They should be putting their energies behind a lawsuit that comes from individual people who have been demonstrably harmed by the provably false positions of the federal government, e.g., families of people who have died from diseases in which the progression and symptoms could have been alleviated by medical cannabis, but who were too afraid to use cannabis, thereby causing them direct harm through the misinformation and prohibition. 
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Comment #7 posted by HempWorld on July 12, 2007 at 09:59:18 PT
Dear ASA... thirdly...
If this could be any help in your (above) suit: Pick up some old English dictionaries (pre-prohibition) and when you look up Cannabis or Cannabis sativa L. in its description it should say "medicine."God's Medicine!
Nobody can stop this!
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Comment #6 posted by HempWorld on July 12, 2007 at 09:17:51 PT
Yeah, go ASA... !
ASA deserves praise for their actions and not just this legal action. Wouldn't it be wonderful to sue the US Federal Government to keep it talking straight! How does this play out with the cover up on information on global warming and the UFO at Roswell for example!The thing that I don't understand in the above argument is several: How come damages or injuries have to be shown for this suit to be effective. Isn't it enough to show that the claims of the US Federal Govt are hogwash and do not accurately reflect the science of our days? Secondly, what about the Federal Compassionate use program. Would this program even exist or would it have been enacted had marijuana no medical value? Are we pissing in the wind, so to speak?How can we be compensated for all the hate mongering these lies of the US Federal Government has given us for more than a generation now? The marijuana user is like being a jew in nazi Germany. How can the government be held accountable for the millions of lives that are currently rendered miserable because of these carefully crafted lies? Marijuana continues to defy gravity and justice in the United States and through the United States the world at large.
On a mission from God!
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on July 12, 2007 at 04:43:50 PT:
I was wondering what excuse Uncle would use
And it's about as specious as you'd expect.In court papers, Department of Justice attorney Steven Bressler argues that Alsup should dismiss ASA v. Department of Health and Human Services, 07-01049, because ASA hadn't identified any members who suffered any harm due to the "allegedly incorrect statement," and because the group lacks standing to sue on its own behalf.Scores of millions of people have had their lives ruined on the basis of government misinformation regarding cannabis. If and when the government is forced to retract its' patently false statements, a floodgate of litigation against the government would open. One that would be so fiscally punitive it might finally bring down the financial house of cards the government rests upon. This is what the government fears, above all. Its' entire effort against re-legalization has been geared towards preventing this inevitable litigative landslide, and every top 'anti-drug' (hmmm...they got something against aspirin?) official since Ronnie Ray-gun's days has known of what was coming. That's why the latest efforts against drug law reform has taken on such intensity. They know intimately the tiger they've been riding...and it's getting hungrier by the minute. When they are forced to get down off of it...well, they have feeding time at the zoo to act as an illustration of what they can expect...
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Comment #4 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on July 12, 2007 at 01:18:40 PT
Medical Marijuana Voting Guide! to Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana for this info, and Sage of MariHemp for providing the link!
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on July 11, 2007 at 21:57:10 PT
Cannabis prohibition effects lots of issues.
A lot of related issues are held up by the laws prohibiting cannabis that allow government and corporations etc. to screw citizens in various positions --- 
(they have so much hinged on perpetuating the ignorant prohibition, persecution and extermination of the God-given superplant. ...& they know it very well.)"...if the ASA's challenge survives the dismissal motion, activists of all stripes who oppose government policies may want to give the strategy a try. "The use of the statute would be very important to watch, given all of the headline-grabbing claims that the Bush administration has essentially used politics to trump science," +The ralated issues surrounding Bong Hits 4 Jesus - implications... Like freedom of speech etc.Etc.-0-0-0-0-0-The "Information Quality Act" will hurt the prohibitionists badly and they will do everything to keep it from taking place.The Information Quality Act is Our nuclear bomb.
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Comment #2 posted by goblet on July 11, 2007 at 21:42:07 PT:
GO ASA!!!!
let's hope that the DQA can bite the DEA and the FDA in the A Ess Ess!
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Comment #1 posted by LaGuardia on July 11, 2007 at 21:39:55 PT
Very Interesting
ASA has a very good standing argument, objectively speaking. The key case on standing to challenge administrative agency action (i.e. DEA) is "Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife." 504 U.S. 555 (1992). It lays out a three part test: "First, the plaintiff must have suffered an "injury in fact" - an invasion of a legally-protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) "actual or imminent, not `conjectural' or `hypothetical.'" Second, there must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of - the injury has to be "fairly . . . trace[able] to the challenged action of the defendant, and not . . . th[e] result [of] the independent action of some third party not before the court." Third, it must be "likely," as opposed to merely "speculative," that the injury will be "redressed by a favorable decision." [citations omitted]Generally, courts weigh the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs (i.e. ASA) when deciding standing. I think that it is a fairly common sense proposition that ASA has had to spend money to combat the DEA's misinformation, and $100,000 is a concrete "actual injury;" the misinformation is fairly traceable to DEA (it was in the Federal Register after all, and they speak publicly against medical marijuana all the time); and retracting the misinformation is possible, so the injury is likely redressable.It seems, however, that DOJ is relying on more technical arguments (e.g. that marijuana education is not part of the group's purpose; how inane!) that really are without merit. It is possible the that a Judge at the district level, or the Supreme Court, will bite on DOJ's arguments, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is the most liberal in the country and I would be surprised if they did not rule in favor of ASA. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, would probably only rule in favor of ASA if not doing so would create some sort of precedent that would cause negative ramifications for corporate interests (since corporations now seem to be the only entities with rights any more).  This Supreme Court would probably create some kind of "marijuana exception" to the Constitution . . . we'll see.Good luck to ASA! This is a brilliant legal maneuver and I hope that it works. DEA's position is truly arbitrary and capricious, so ASA has good prospects on the merits if they get past the standing hurdle.
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