NORML's Weekly News Bulletin -- October 16, 2003

NORML's Weekly News Bulletin -- October 16, 2003
Posted by CN Staff on October 16, 2003 at 16:43:56 PT
Weekly Press Release
Source: NORML
Supreme Court Turns Back Feds' Appeal To Punish Pot DocsOctober 16, 2003 - Washington, DC, USAWashington, DC: The Supreme Court this week declined to review a unanimous Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding the rights of physicians to discuss the medicinal use of marijuana with their patients. The Bush administration had asked the Supreme Court in July to overturn the ruling, arguing that it prevented the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from protecting the public from the threat of illegal drugs.
By rejecting the government's appeal, the Court upheld the Ninth Circuit's October 2002 decision enjoining the Justice Department from revoking physicians' federal licenses to prescribe medicine if they discuss marijuana with their patients. In eight states, the possession and use of marijuana is legal if a physician recommends it."All the way up the chain - from the US District Court, to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, to the US Supreme Court - the courts have unequivocally stated that a physician's recommendation to his or her patient to engage in marijuana therapy is Constitutionally protected speech," said NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup. "This decision by the Supreme Court frees physicians who wish to discuss the use of medicinal cannabis with their patients from the heavy-hand of government intrusion or sanction."Writing for the Ninth Circuit last October, Chief Judge Mary Schroeder opined that a doctor's recommendation regarding the use of medicinal marijuana "does not itself constitute illegal conduct" and therefore "does not interfere with the federal government's ability to enforce its laws."Plaintiffs in the case - a coalition of California physicians and patients - initially filed suit in 1997, shortly after federal officials threatened to sanction any doctors who complied with California's Proposition 215, the "Medical Use of Marijuana Act." US District Judge Fern Smith issued a preliminary injunction against the Justice Department in 1997. That injunction was made permanent in 2000.For more information, please contact NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup at (202) 483-5500.DL: Rejects DEA Press To Censor Doctors Doctors Can Discuss Pot Appeal Of Marijuana Case Rejected of Medical Marijuana Hail Ruling California Approves Statewide ID Card System, Cultivation Guidelines For Medi-Pot PatientsOctober 16, 2003 - Sacramento, CA, USASacramento, CA: California will adopt a voluntary identification card system for medicinal marijuana users under legislation signed this week by outgoing governor Gray Davis.The legislation, Senate Bill 420, mandates the California Department of State Health Services to establish and maintain the new program, which will allow law enforcement the ability to readily verify whether a patient is registered by the state to possess and use pot medicinally. However, patients who do not possess an ID card will still be shielded from state criminal prosecution, according to the new law - which takes effect on January 1, 2004.The legislation also imposes statewide guidelines outlining how much medicinal marijuana patients may grow and possess. Under the guidelines, qualified patients and/or their primary caregivers may possess no more than eight ounces of dried marijuana and/or six mature (or 12 immature) marijuana plants. However, S.B. 420 allows patients to possess larger amounts of marijuana when such quantities are recommended by a physician. The legislation also allows counties and municipalities to approve and/or maintain local ordinances permitting patients to possess larger quantities of medicinal pot than allowed under the new state guidelines.The new law also grants implied legal protection to the state's medicinal marijuana dispensaries, stating, "Qualified patients, persons with valid identification cards, and the designated primary caregivers of qualified patients ... who associate within the state of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, shall not solely on the basis of that fact be subject to state criminal sanctions."Additional provisions of S.B. 420 allow prison inmates to apply for medical marijuana ID cards (though they may or may not be allowed to use the drug while incarcerated), and permits the use of physician-recommended marijuana for some defendants on probation.For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.DL: Health Official Applauds State ID Law Officials Re-evaluate Marijuana Policies Sets Marijuana Standards Protest Limits on Medical Pot Federal Audit Knocks DEA For Poor PerformanceOctober 16, 2003 - Washington, DC, USAWashington, DC: The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has not adopted "specific criteria" to determine whether the agency is meeting its stated goals of targeting and dismantling drug traffickers, according to an audit report released by the US Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General (IOG)."The DEA's strategic goal and objectives were not definitive enough to allow for an assessment of whether [its] goal and objectives were being achieved," the report concluded. In particular, "Specific criteria ... to designate organizations as 'priority target' organizations [and] specific criteria ... to report on the primary performance indicator - priority target organizations disrupted or dismantled ... [have] not [been] established."The IOG report is the second federal review this year panning the agency's performance. In February, a report by the White House Office of Management and Budget concluded that the DEA was "unable to demonstrate its progress in reducing the availability of illegal drugs in the US." That report rated the DEA a zero on a scale of zero to 100 in the category of "results/accountability," and recommended that "new measures [are] needed" if the agency is to be effective in the future.NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre called the agency's performance "embarrassing," adding: "If the DEA was a private company, it would be out of business."For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751. Text of the OIG report (Report No. 03-35) is available online at: Faulted On Its Reports NORML Foundation (DC)Published: October 16, 2003Copyright: 2003 NORML Contact: norml Website:'s Weekly News Bulletin -- Oct. 8, 2003's Weekly News Bulletin -- Oct. 2, 2003
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