Federal Judge Declines to Hear California Medical Marijuana Distribution Case
A federal judge on Friday denied the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative's request to lift an injunction barring the group from distributing marijuana for medicinal purposes and rejected its appeal to reopen a case regarding whether the group may legally distribute the drug, the AP/Nando Times reports (Kravets, AP/Nando Times, 5/3). With the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, California became the first state to legalize the use of marijuana to relieve pain associated with chronic illnesses such as cancer and AIDS. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May 2001 that under a 1970 federal law, marijuana has no medical benefits and may not be prescribed by doctors (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/9). The Oakland cooperative had sought to reopen the case under new legal arguments, but U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer rejected the request "at the government's urging." Breyer stated in his ruling that the cooperative "has no constitutional right" to distribute marijuana for medicinal purposes, adding, "With or without medical authorization, the distribution of marijuana is illegal under federal law." Robert Raich, an attorney for the cooperative, said that he would appeal the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled earlier in the case that the cooperative could "legally defend its actions on the grounds it was helping the sick" (AP/Nando Times, 5/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.