MEDICAL MARIJUANA: DOJ Continues Assault on Law
The Department of Justice Thursday renewed its efforts to quash California's Proposition 215, which allows patients to grow and possess marijuana for medical uses, claiming that the government can revoke doctors' licenses to dispense medication if they recommend the drug to patients, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. Arguing in a California U.S. district court during the final stages of an ACLU lawsuit, DOJ lawyer Joseph Lobue told Judge William Alsup that the government "doesn't care" about Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act, because federal law supersedes the state measure. "It doesn't matter what California says," he contended. He also said that marijuana has "no proven medical benefits," and the FDA has not authorized the drug for patient use. The ACLU filed suit against the federal government for violating doctors' free speech rights, arguing that many doctors resist recommending marijuana because they fear punitive action. According to White House drug policy chief Barry McCaffrey, doctors could lose their federal licenses to prescribe drugs, be excluded from Medicare and Medicaid and face criminal charges. "That is censorship in its pure and complete form," ACLU attorney Graham Boyd said. Alsup is expected to make a ruling within the next few weeks, a decision that could have implications for several states with similar laws (Kravets, 8/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.