Court Rules Unanimously Against Compassionate Care

Court Rules Unanimously Against Compassionate Care
Posted by CN Staff on November 28, 2008 at 05:55:43 PT
By Tamar Todd, AlterNet
Source: AlterNet
CA -- California's State Supreme Court has voted unanimously to limit the ability of patients to obtain medical marijuana by narrowly defining who is a legitimate caregiver under California's Compassionate Use Act. As a result of the Court's November 24 opinion in People v. Mentch, many ill and dying patients who are unable to grow their own medicine will no longer be able to rely on individuals who assist patients with cultivation and administration of medical marijuana. Under the new ruling, these individuals are now more vulnerable to arrest and prosecution under California law. This places the burden on California's cooperatives and collectives to supply most of the medical marijuana needed in California by patients who are unable to cultivate their own.
The Court held that, in order to be protected under the Act, a primary caregiver must consistently provide care, independent of any assistance in taking medical marijuana at or before the time he or she assumed responsibility for assisting with medical marijuana. To illustrate some examples of appropriate caregivers under the Act, the Court states: "The spouse or domestic partner caring for his or her ailing companion, the child caring for his or her ailing parent, the hospice nurse caring for his or her ailing patient -- each can point to the many ways in which they, medical marijuana aside, attend to and assume responsibility for the core survival needs of their dependants."On the other hand, the Court said, a "defendant whose caregiving consisted principally of supplying marijuana and instructing on its use, and who otherwise only sporadically took some patients to medical appointments, cannot qualify as a primary caregiver under [California's Compassionate Use] Act."Unfortunately, the Court's decision is at odds with reality. The Court failed to recognize that the vast majority of ill Californians in need of medical marijuana are too sick and do not have the skill, expertise or space to cultivate their own medicine. Neither do their spouses, partners, children, hospice nurses or others caring for their "core survival needs." Sick patients may live with their spouses and children in apartments where they will be evicted if they grow marijuana. A hospice nurse with no training in botany who is caring for multiple sick patients cannot be expected to grow or cultivate medicine for them. Other patients may need medical marijuana, but feel well enough to care for their own "core survival needs" and to live independently. Under the Court's reasoning, these patients do not need and are no longer entitled to a primary caregiver under the Act.This is why DPA filed an amicus curiae brief in this case on behalf of leading doctors, professors and researchers informing the Court that restricting who can qualify as a caregiver "would likely harm the health and well-being of medical marijuana patients by deterring knowledgeable and skilled caregivers from providing patients with appropriate types and amounts of medical grade marijuana, and considered advice on how best to use the medicine." The cultivation and administration of medical marijuana is complicated. Its efficacy for the treatment of particular symptoms is closely related to the genetic strains of marijuana and routes of administration used by patients. Many seriously ill patients depend upon knowledgeable caregivers to advise them about the appropriate strains of marijuana and the optimal routes of administration for their particular medical conditions. In many cases, what patients need are caregivers who have the expertise and ability to provide medical-grade marijuana. This is something their spouse, child, or hospice nurse cannot do.Other states -- such as New Mexico -- recognize the important role that caregivers play in providing and advising patients regarding medical marijuana and have wisely drafted their laws with broader, more protective caregiver language than California. In states which do not have an alternative production and distribution system-such as the cooperative and collective model established in California-a law that allows patients to seek out caregivers primarily for their ability to assist in obtaining and administering medical marijuana is essential for patients to receive proper and effective treatment.Now that the Court has limited the definition of caregiver in California, patients will be forced to use medical marijuana cooperative and collectives to supply them with quality medical marijuana and to provide information on its administration and use. It is now more important than ever that the State support and protect cooperative and collectives to the fullest extent possible.Complete Title: California Supreme Court Rules Unanimously Against Compassionate CareTamar Todd is a Staff Attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance. - AlterNet (US)Author: Tamar Todd, AlterNetPublished: November 28, 2008Copyright: 2008 Independent Media InstituteContact: letters Website: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #10 posted by Sam Adams on November 29, 2008 at 18:12:48 PT
very disturbing
This seems like a despicable act by the "Supreme Court" - more like "Fascist Court" - does anyone know if this is really going to close all the dispensaries? There are hundreds, are they going to prosecute them all? Or is it just the growers that are in danger.What a mockery of justice - the voters wanted to get medicine to the sick - the dispensaries are the closest possible model to pharmacies - clearly this is what voters approved.It's up to the state legislature now, they need to pass another law specifically allowing dispensaries and ram it up Governator's you-know-what
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Comment #9 posted by museman on November 28, 2008 at 10:46:30 PT
"Pleased to meet you,
Hope you guessed my name,'cause what's troublin' youis just the nature of my game." ..."and every cop's a criminal, and every criminal saint."There's no 'sympathy for the devil' in my world.
I suggest the good citizens of this country stop giving their sympathy to the devil -and his money, and give it to those who need, and deserve it.FREE BOMBALACHA FOR EVERYONE
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Comment #8 posted by charmed quark on November 28, 2008 at 09:58:24 PT
cooperatives vs. caregivers?
I guess I don't understand the ruling. In the typical collectives and cooperatives I've read about, most of the patients are too ill to travel to the grow site or participate much. It's mostly the healthier patients and the leaders of the cooperative who do the growing and preparation of the cannabis.Typically, members either pay money to cover the costs or work it out by providing labor. Plus most have yearly membership fees.It seems like the wording of the ruling would make these illegal. But all the articles talk about depending more on the collective/cooperatives.
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Comment #7 posted by Mike on November 28, 2008 at 08:07:33 PT
Here's the scientific study on that ancient stash:
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on November 28, 2008 at 07:50:13 PT
Thank you. I have the article about the oldest marijuana found posted now.
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Comment #5 posted by The GCW on November 28, 2008 at 07:43:22 PT
US CO: PUB LTE: Bring Back Hemp
US CO: PUB LTE: Bring Back HempPubdate: Wed, 26 Nov 2008
Source: Summit Daily News (CO) here to comment at end of letter:*And please send a letter to the editor (it will get published) and comment at the end of letter.-0-Some will argue hemp is not worthy using various reasoning...One will be that it is not profittable...The following article indicates growing hemp is profitable...CN MB: Demand For Hemp Soaring, Firm Moves To Bigger PlantPubdate: Thu, 13 Nov 2008
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on November 28, 2008 at 07:29:33 PT
Researchers find oldest-ever stash 
Researchers find oldest-ever stash of marijuanaBy: Dean Beeby, THE CANADIAN PRESS
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on November 28, 2008 at 07:28:00 PT
Unfortunately, the Court's decision is at odds wit
Unfortunately, the Court's decision is at odds with reality. 
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on November 28, 2008 at 06:20:01 PT
MI: Questions Surround Pot Ordinance in Ferndale
Friday, November 28, 2008
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on November 28, 2008 at 05:57:21 PT
How To Fix This Problem
We need to change the Federal Law or at least re-schedule Cannabis. 
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