Newsbrief: US Circuit Denies Federal Appeal in Medical Marijuana Case 2/27/04

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If the US Justice Department wants to be able to harass medical marijuana patients in the Western United States, it will have to seek a victory at the Supreme Court. The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday denied the government's motion to rehear Raich v. Ashcroft. In December, a three-judge panel of the court ruled in the case that the federal government could not use the Controlled Substances Act to move against medical marijuana patients if those patients were not engaged in interstate commerce in marijuana.

"The intrastate, noncommercial cultivation, possession and use of marijuana for personal medical purposes on the advice of a physician is, in fact, different in kind from drug trafficking," Judge Harry Pregerson wrote for the majority in December. "This limited use is clearly distinct from the broader illicit drug market, as well as any broader commercial market for medical marijuana, insofar as the medical marijuana at issue in this case is not intended for, nor does it enter, the stream of commerce."

Now, in a unanimous decision, the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the Justice Department's request to undo the decision of its three-judge panel. Separately, the court also turned down DOJ's request for a rehearing by that three-judge panel.

The only recourse left for the Ashcroft Justice Department is to seek a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court. It has 90 days to file a petition for the court to hear its appeal. Justice has not announced whether it will ask the nation's highest court to intervene.

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Issue #326, 2/27/04 Editorial: Needless Danger | Nevada Voters to Get Second Chance to Legalize Marijuana | New York: Medical Marijuana on the Move in Albany and NYC | South Dakota "Internal Possession" Drug Law Upheld | Newsbrief: US 9th Circuit Denies Federal Appeal in Medical Marijuana Case | Newsbrief: Campaign Watch -- Nader on Drugs | Newsbrief: Utah Federal Judge Questions Mandatory Minimums | Newsbrief: South Carolina Urine Felon Jailed for Six Months | Newsbrief: Psychedelic Pioneer Humphry Osmond Dead at 86 | Newsbrief: California Narcs Kill Wrong Man | Newsbrief: Hempster Becomes Local Hero in Icy Pond Rescue | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar
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