Justice Department Asks Appeals Court for Rehearing on Medical Marijuana Defense 11/5/99

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) last week asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider last month's ruling in which it instructed a trial court to re-think its order that closed down several medical marijuana clubs in California. The trial judge had initially rejected a medical necessity defense, but the appeals court indicated that such a defense may in fact be available to the clubs.

The DOJ's request comes despite a request from California Attorney General Bill Lockyer that the agency refrain from asking for a rehearing on the issue.

Federal prosecutors have steadfastly argued that there can be no medical necessity to use marijuana because Congress has declared that marijuana has no medicinal value. But the 9th circuit disagreed, saying the federal government had presented no facts to contradict "evidence that cannabis is the only effective treatment for a large group of seriously ill individuals."

The case in question is a civil suit brought by the Justice Department against six Northern California clubs. The complaint alleges that federal law trumps California's state law regarding the medicinal use of marijuana.

A spokesman for Lockyer's office told The Week Online that although they are disappointed in DOJ's action, their office has no plans to involve itself in the case in any way.

DOJ did not return calls seeking comment for this article.

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Issue #115, 11/5/99 Medical Marijuana Wins Again! Maine Becomes 7th State to Shield Patients from Arrest | Justice Department Asks Appeals Court for Rehearing on Medical Marijuana Defense | Latin Leaders Call Drug War a Failure | Citizens Protest Drug Czars' Conference | Observations on ONDCP's Response to the Open Letter | District of Columbia Syringe Exchange Language Holds Up Appropriations Bill | Australia: Vatican KO's Nuns' Safe-Injecting Room Plan, but University Saves the Day | McWilliams and McCormick Trials Beginning This Month | Temporary Job Opportunity in Washington | Editorial: Guest Editorial: Why Is There a War in Colombia? Look to the Streets of Washington, DC

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