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Do Citizens Have A Right Under The Constitution To Use Medical Marijuana?


ninth circuit court medical marijuanaNinth Circuit Court of Appeals to Hear Whether Citizens Have a Fundamental Right Under the US Constitution to Use Cannabis for Medical Purposes

On January 13, 2014, at 9:00 a.m., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in San Francisco, will hear oral argument on whether citizens in the 9 Western states which make up the Ninth Circuit, have a fundamental right to possess, use, and distribute cannabis for medical purposes as allowed by state law. The underlying lawsuits that have led to the case being before the Ninth Circuit accuse the federal government of unconstitutionally intruding on that fundamental right. All of the 9 Western states in the Circuit have legalized or immunized medical cannabis use and possession.

Entitled Sacramento Nonprofit Collective et al v. Eric Holder et. al,, Case No. 12-15991, the case stems from the massive crackdown by the four United States attorneys in California against patients and collectively-owned dispensaries in California in 2011. During that crackdown, numerous people were arrested and prosecuted and numerous cannabis dispensaries were forced to close after their landlords received letters threatening property forfeitures. In some cases, the Department of Justice did initiate forfeiture proceedings against a number of properties. In response, the plaintiffs in all four federal districts of California – Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego – including cooperatives, landlords, and medical cannabis patients such as Briana Bilbray, the daughter of former California Congressman Brian Bilbray, sued the federal government. Their suit aims to allow them to lawfully possess and use cannabis to treat their medical conditions with a doctor’s recommendation without interference by the federal government. A positive ruling will impact the entire Ninth Circuit.

Plaintiffs have sought relief based on a number of legal claims, including whether, after 20 states plus the District of Columbia have enacted laws allowing the use of cannabis as medicine, there now exists a “fundamental right” to such possession and use, a right guaranteed under the US Constitution. Fundamental rights are rights that are either explicitly guaranteed by the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution or are rights that have been recognized as basic to human existence, regardless of the existence of any government regulation or law. In the past, courts have found a fundamental right to interstate and intrastate travel, a right to privacy and particularly, within that privacy right, the right to marry, the right to procreate, the right of a woman to choose to have an abortion before fetal viability, the right to use contraceptives, and the right of unrelated people to live together.
One of the more recently recognized fundamental rights by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 was the right of people to engage in private, consensual sexual activity, a case stemming from the arrest of two gay men in Texas prosecuted under that state’s anti-sodomy laws. That case was Lawrence v. Texas.

David Michael, one of 7 attorneys on the plaintiffs’ legal team, will argue the case before the Ninth Circuit. Attorney Michael was also lead counsel in Raich v. Gonzeles, where, in 2004, this same Ninth Circuit ruled that the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution did not apply to the intra-state growing and possession and use of medical cannabis. Seventeen months later, in 2005, the case went before the U.S. Supreme Court, which narrowly reversed the Ninth Circuit, holding that the Commerce Clause gave broad powers to the federal government over any activity that could impact interstate commerce. However, the Supreme Court has never weighed in on the issue of whether the possession and use of cannabis for medical purposes has now become a fundamental right.

The Ninth Circuit, though, did address the fundamental rights question when the Supreme Court sent the original case back down in 2007. At that time, only 11 states had a medical cannabis law in place. The Ninth Circuit, in its 2007 decision, Raich II, did portend however, that the courts would eventually recognize this right. The Ninth Circuit panel stated that “federal law is blind to the wisdom of a future day when the right to use medical marijuana to alleviate excruciating pain may be deemed fundamental. Although that day has not yet dawned, considering that during the last ten years eleven states have legalized the use of medical marijuana, that day may be upon us sooner than expected.”

Now that 20 states plus the District of Columbia have recognized medical cannabis, and other states have decriminalized cannabis use and possession, which encompasses more than 53% of the population of this country, Plaintiffs and their attorneys believe that the day has indeed dawned for society to finally recognize the medical use of cannabis as a fundamental right and that the federal courts, beginning with this Ninth Circuit, will now recognize that right and decide that it trumps any federal law to the contrary.

Source: NORML - make a donation


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  • nedmorlef

    here in the south they steal houses as fast as they can poison your dog.
    i got a sheriff that’s been literally crawling in my shrubbery for 16 years. The funny thing is they didn’t come here because, i’m a user. They came here because i walked up on the county District Attorney involved in criminal activity. They sought to shut me up so, it wouldn’t ruin their hard work..

    After getting me fired from a couple of high paying jobs, handing out my bank info to “informants” I am not able to keep a job or money so, i began smoking for all the medical issues I have.

    I’ve always been a supporter and very casual user however, my work for celebrities brought a high security clearance. I really have not been able to enjoy weed. The catch though is I am a year round gardener and they thought they could set me up as a grower. I haven’t grown weed since I was a teenager.

    So now with no job there’s now no reason to NOT smoke. So they followed me around enough to finally figure out I was buying from someone and they laid off of the 100 or so K-9 sweeps and breaking into my property. They actually sneak up to my house and lay under my windows sniffing. Remember they killed my dogs. 3 in about a ten year span of time. I think the only reason they didn’t plant something was I had cameras. They basically told me I couldn’t prove those were deputies hiding in my bushes.

    Well they didn’t bring anything and they didn’t take anything away so they aren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses or thieves.

    Anyway, I became an activist to get their money by removing their real estate license. I’ve got lots of time.

  • Grim Reefer

    True enough for me to agree with you, all news thats forms our opinions is under government control. Peace

  • Cherokee

    Good points, All I care about is the feds keeping their word and leaving medical marijuana and legal marijuana alone. I am a freedom fighter and a martyr for the cause. My willingness to do so will follow me to my death. Divided we fall, united we stand.

  • MrPC

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion, even if it is based on the agitprop of AM talk radio pundits whose primary concern is making more money for themselves. But don’t confuse those opinions with the long view of history. And if you are convinced that everyone who holds political office is inherently evil, consider the alternative – no government at all. I think those unfortunate folks who live in places where anarchy reigns would trade places with us in a heartbeat.

  • Grim Reefer

    This has nothing to do with the fact that obama is one the most worthless men to ever hold office. You should run for local, city or state government with your smoke and mirrors approach to being truthful

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  • MrPC

    Slappy, here is another fact: In the 1970’s, fewer than 20% of Americans believed that marijuana should be legalized, according to polls. As you probably know from reading this blog, those numbers have dramatically changed over time. Fortunately, historians actually look at facts, not the propaganda that forms the short-term opinions of many.

  • Slippy

    As a senior citizen 76 in pain all the time dr put me on Percocet then tell me I’m addicted to them and offer me suboxone that makes me so sick I have to call an ambulance to take me to the emergency room then someone says try pot witch really helped but I am scared to death that I’m going to be arrested so I go to a pain clinic they take a urine test and guess what they say they can’t help me anymore don’t dr take an oath to help sick people is the dea so strong that it controls drs and a man of the senate can get a slap on the wrist and go back to work you got to be kidding me I worked all my life only to be told to suffer in my old age unless you young people fix this big brother will become a real thing. God bless

  • Slappy

    Here are the facts , President Barack Obama is ending his fifth year in office with the lowest approval ratings at this point in the presidency since President Richard Nixon, according to a new Washington Post/ABC poll released Tuesday.Obama’s approval rating in the poll stands at 43%. By comparison, President George W. Bush had a 47% approval rating at the end of the fifth year of his presidency. And all other Post-World War II presidents had approval ratings above 50% — with the exception of Nixon, who, amid the Watergate scandal, had a dreadful 29% approval rating.

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-approval-rating-polls-nixon-2013-12#ixzz2pgJIpQNH