Supreme Court to Hear Appeal to Determine Constitutionality of Federal Ban on Marijuana in States Allowing Medical Use
June 30, 2004
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal of a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' December 2003 ruling that a federal ban on marijuana is unconstitutional when applied to seriously ill people -- including people living with HIV/AIDS -- who use marijuana for medical reasons in states where the drug's use is allowed when recommended by a physician, the Los Angeles Times reports. The appeal, filed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, claims that federal law bars the use of marijuana in "all instances" (Savage, Los Angeles Times, 6/29). The 9th Circuit Court's ruling said that the federal ban was unconstitutional provided that the marijuana is not sold, transported across state lines or used for non-medical purposes. The original case involved two California women -- Angel Raich and Diane Monson -- who received letters from their doctors authorizing them to use marijuana for medical purposes. Under California's Proposition 215 -- a ballot measure approved by voters in 1996 -- patients with chronic illnesses such as cancer and AIDS can use medical marijuana to treat pain. The physicians' permission protected them from state and local prosecution under Proposition 215. Raich and Monson filed a lawsuit in October 2002 against Ashcroft and former DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson asking for an injunction that would allow them to continue using marijuana without prosecution. A district judge in March 2003 ruled against Raich and Monson, and Raich appealed the case to the 9th Circuit Court. Neither woman has been prosecuted for using marijuana (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/18/03).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2004 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
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