Newsbrief: Ruling Expected "Soon" in Santa Cruz Medical Marijuana Suit 7/11/03

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A lawsuit filed by the county of Santa Cruz, CA, a medical marijuana co-op, and seven patients seeking to restrain the federal government from further raiding the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (http://www.wamm.org) will be decided "soon," a US District Court judge said Monday. Judge Jeremy Fogel also expressed sympathy for the plight of medical marijuana patients and told the court he was looking for a "hook" on which to hang a temporary restraining order barring the US Department of Justice from new raids.

WAMM was raided on September 5 in a case that garnered national and international media attention when the city of Santa Cruz allowed medical marijuana distribution to take place on the steps of city hall. WAMM and its operators, Mike and Valerie Corral, subsequently sought in federal court to have their seized crop returned, but that effort failed. Then WAMM and seven patients, including terminally patients, filed suit seeking a temporary injunction to stop further raids. This time, the city and county of Santa Cruz both joined the lawsuit.

WAMM and the other plaintiffs argued that DEA enforcement of marijuana laws against the co-op violates the fundamental rights of patients by depriving them of medicine that works. They also argued that because no marijuana was sold and all was produced and consumed locally, there was no federal jurisdiction. And they told the court this case was unique because of the participation of local government entities.

At Monday's hearing on that suit, Judge Fogel said he had been affected by testimony from patients. "One cannot read the declarations before the court without being moved by them," he said. But he added that federal law does not allow a medical necessity defense. "Frankly, I'm looking for a hook that's very different from the one I've looked at and been forced to reject," said Fogel, referring to the injunction seeking the return of WAMM's 160 plants that he denied. "I would need something new and different other than someone saying: 'Judge you got it wrong last time.'"

Judge Fogel gave no firm date for a ruling. WAMM and the Corrals want it soon; they need to plant by mid-July, they told the San Jose Mercury-News, or it will be too late. Department of Justice senior counsel Mark Quinlivan wasn't feeling rushed, though; there were "summer vacations" and "other issues" that had to be dealt with, he said. Not until September, he suggested.

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Issue #295, 7/11/03 Editorial: More Than One Kind of Pain | Alaska Court Rules Marijuana Possession Okay -- Judicial Day of Reckoning Coming | Doctors' Group Advises Physicians to Avoid Treating Pain with Opiates, Cites Persecution of Pain Doctors -- Tucson Case Illustrates Point | DRCNet Interview: Brazilian Antiprohibitionists Luiz Paulo Guanabara of Psicotropicus and Cecilia Szterenfeld of the Integrated Programs on Marginality | Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Argentina | In Memoriam: Don Topping, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii | Newsbrief: Feds Appeal Ed Rosenthal Sentence | Newsbrief: Ruling Expected "Soon" in Santa Cruz Medical Marijuana Suit | Ashcroft Seeks Supreme Court Permission to Overturn Free Speech Ruling on Physician-Patient Discussion of Medical Marijuana | Newsbrief: Oregon Appeals Court Overturns Asset Forfeiture Reform | Newsbrief: Canadian Government to Distribute Medical Marijuana | Newsbrief: New DEA Administrator Karen Tandy Approved by Senate Judiciary Committee Following Medical Marijuana Controversy | Newsbrief: Former Scottish High Court Judge Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: British Doctors Don't Say Legalize It | The Reformer's Calendar
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