MEDICAL MARIJUANA: JUDGE SUSPENDS ADMINISTRATION’S EFFORTS
A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order FridayThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
"preventing federal authorities from prosecuting or taking
license action against doctors who recommend or suggest marijuana
to their patients." U.S. District Judge Fern Smith said that the
federal policy "was unclear as to the distinction between doctors
'discussing' and 'recommending' medical marijuana, leaving many
uncertain about what they can legally say to their patients."
The ruling comes in response to a suit filed by a group of San
Francisco-area doctors, who charged that the government's policy
of punishing doctors for recommending medical marijuana violated
their constitutional right to free speech and interfered with
doctor-patient relationships. SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER reports
that Smith's ruling will stay in effect "until attorneys from
both sides complete a settlement conference April 17 before U.S.
District Judge Eugene Lynch or until" Smith issues further
ALL IN FAVOR: Ann Brick, an attorney for the American Civil
Liberties Union, said that the ruling means that, for the time
being, doctors can give "patients 'honest, uncensored advice'
regarding a range of medical options that are available" (Lat,
4/12). Graham Boyd, the plaintiffs' attorney, said, "The federal
government, as part of its war on drugs, had declared war on
California doctors. Now, they no longer need to fear draconian
federal punishments for recommending marijuana." However,
Patricia Seitz, legal counsel for the White House Office of
National Drug Control Policy, "said the government respected the
right of doctors to discuss the benefits and hazards of
treatments with their patients. But it opposes any effort by
physicians to help them obtain illegal drugs" (Golden, NEW YORK