Medical Marijuana Research Update: December 2003

Medical marijuana patient Angel McClary Raich and her caregivers and Diane Monson won in an historic Ninth Circuit decision in their injunction against Ashcroft, the DEA Chief, and the Federal Government. The Court declared the Controlled Substances Act unconstitutional for violating rights under the Commerce Clause if the marijuana isn’t sold, transported across state lines or used for non-medicinal purposes.

MAPS, MPP and Dr. Ethan Russo filed an amicus curiae brief in this case, which can be found here. We testified about Executive branch obstructionism of medical marijuana research and concluded, "The Court should not rule against patients’ constitutional rights to use cannabis based on the illusion of a well-functioning FDA-approval process. Executive branch obstructionism has made it necessary for patients to assert their constitutional rights to use cannabis as a legal ’safety net’ for a limited number of patients."

In its decision, the Court noted, "The appellees also contend that granting the appellants’ requested injunction would create a slippery slope as other plaintiffs seeking use of other schedule I controlled substances would bypass the statutory process established by Congress. The appellees claim that the appellants’ proposed injunction therefore has the potential to significantly undermine the FDA drug approval process. Our holding is sufficiently narrow to avoid such concerns." Though the Court didn’t point this out, it’s totally hypocritical for the Bush Administration to accuse Angel Raich of undermining the FDA drug approval process when DEA, with ONDCP support, is obstructing privately-funded medical marijuana research by not granting a license to grow marijuana for research to Prof. Craker at UMass Amherst (Read this for more details).

Fortunately, the Court’s decision will increase pressure on the Bush Administration to approve the UMass Amherst marijuana production facility by making it more obvious that a denial just increases the need for patients like Angel to grow their own medicine free from federal persecution.

The Court’s decision is here. Click on "opinions" at the upper left. Then select Raich vs.. Ashcroft Download the major pleadings from the litigation (Raich v. Ashcroft) here and here.  Also read the Dec. 16, 2003, Associated Press article, "Federal Appeals Court OKs Medical Marijuana in Some Cases".