MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Judge Rules Against Clubs
A federal judge yesterday rejected two medical marijuana clubs' claim that distributing the drug to terminally ill patients constituted a "medical necessity." U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer's ruling effectively "allows federal marshals to close" marijuana clubs in Oakland and Marin County, according to Rachel Swain, a spokesperson for the clubs. The AP/Contra Costa Times reports that the clubs had argued that "administering marijuana was justified by 'medical necessity,' the legal doctrine that allows someone to violate a law in certain narrow circumstances when it is the only way to prevent a more serious harm." But the judge "effectively rejected that defense," reasoning that the clubs only determined if clients "needed marijuana," not whether "each patient had no alternative" medical treatments available to them, according to William Panzer, lawyer for the Marin club. Panzer, who said he would appeal the ruling, argued that "enforcing the ban on marijuana violates patients' constitutional right to relieve excruciating pain." Panzer said that Breyer's ruling stated that the only "legal" way to overcome the federal ban on marijuana was "to ask the government to lift it, wait for a denial and then go to a federal appeals court" (Egelko, 10/14). Click medical marijuana to read past CHL coverage of the clubs' battle to reconcile Prop. 215 with federal and state narcotics law.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.