MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Proponents Vow To Oppose Ruling
Patrons of Oakland's medical marijuana facility yesterday reacted with dismay to Judge Charles Breyer's Tuesday ruling which ordered the club shut down. The Los Angeles Times reports that "Jeff Jones, the club's executive director, held a news conference on the steps of City Hall to denounce Breyer's ruling." He said, "Patients are very scared that they are going to have to go back on the streets" (Curtius, 10/15). Breyer noted in his ruling that although the closure would contribute to suffering, the club's lawyers "failed to demonstrate that enforcing a federal ban on marijuana distribution would violate the constitutional right of sick people to relieve excruciating pain." Club attorneys promised to appeal on the basis of this "legal technicality." Attorney Robert Raich said, "Even though our members testified that medical cannabis has actually saved their lives, they didn't say they would die tomorrow without medical cannabis. As a result, over 2,000 people may lose their access to a necessary and lifesaving medicine" (Reuters/Washington Times, 10/15). Raich added that Breyer "got some key facts wrong. If his ruling were to stand, it would be a tremendous miscarriage of our judicial system" (Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/15). The reaction of the U.S. Department of Justice yesterday was "subdued," according to the Los Angeles Times. Spokesperson Gregory King said, "I can't say much, except that we were gratified that the judge ruled as he did. We expect to enforce the court's order."
The judge did not rule on the status of the smaller Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, but "said he will allow a jury trial on the narrow question of whether the Marin club actually distributed marijuana on the day that it was under a federal agent's surveillance." Should the Oakland club close, the largest remaining club in the state would be the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center in West Hollywood (10/15). Oakland city officials said they may consider distributing the substance themselves, "becoming the first municipality in the country to distribute the drug." City council member Nate Miley said, "Closing the cooperative will force patients with AIDS, cancer and other debilitating diseases to turn to street dealers for the medicine they need" (Reuters/Washington Times, 10/15).