Federal Judge Issues Injunction Against California Cannabis Clubs 6/14/02

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US District Judge Charles Breyer issued a permanent injunction Monday against the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Coop and two other coops that have already shut down, ordering them to immediately halt the distribution of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana supporters fear the injunction will be a green light for the DEA to step up its persecution of activities that are legal under California law but banned by the federal government.

By following the route of civil injunctions, the DEA and the Justice Department avoid having to resort to criminal prosecutions of medical marijuana providers, a tactic that could backfire dramatically in a state where voters overwhelming approved medical marijuana at the ballot box.

The ruling was not unexpected. Breyer had in early May issued a temporary injunction after denying numerous requests from medical marijuana lawyers to find a way to allow the distribution of medical marijuana within federal law. That ruling came in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Coop case, in which a unanimous court held that California's medical marijuana law did not override federal restrictions on marijuana distribution.

"A medical-necessity exception for marijuana is at odds with the terms of the Controlled Substances Act," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his opinion. "The statute reflects a determination that marijuana has no medical benefits worthy of an exception, outside the confines of a government-approved research project."

The DEA has in recent months stepped up its persecution of medical marijuana providers, provoking the formation of Americans for Safe Access (http://www.safeaccessnow.org), the umbrella group that organized last week's demonstrations at DEA offices around the country. ASA has an emergency response plan for raids that may follow this ruling.

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