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Bill seeks to provide medical pot defense

Bill seeks to provide medical pot defense


February 20, 2003

Medical marijuana users and growers in California could cite state law as a defense against federal prosecutors who criminalize their actions, under a bill planned by three federal lawmakers.
U.S. Reps. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, and Lynne Woolsey, D-Petaluma, plan to co-sponsor the bill next month with Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, an Orange County Republican.
The proposed legislation comes in the wake of stepped-up federal raids on medical marijuana gardens over the past year, including one at a Santa Cruz County cooperative last September.
The legislation also comes after marijuana guru Ed Rosenthal was convicted on federal charges of growing pot in Oakland in a trial during which his lawyers weren’t allowed to mention he was growing it for Oakland’s medical marijuana patients.
“The purpose of this bill is to allow defendants in federal criminal trials to introduce evidence that their marijuana-related activity was performed for a valid medical purpose under state law,” Farr said in a written statement.
Farr is to be honored today in Sacramento during a press conference hosted by the marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. He was to be joined by family members of people recently convicted on federal marijuana charges.
Eight states have approved medical marijuana use, but the bill recognizing state marijuana law is likely to face an uphill battle in a Republican-controlled Congress.
Rohrbacher said the bill was a reasonable approach to settling the conflict between federal and state laws.
“As far as I know, it is the people of the state who are supposed to be determining criminal laws,” he said by telephone Wednesday. “I just think that if the majority of people in a state vote to permit people to use marijuana for medical purposes, the federal government should not interfere with that.”
The tension between federal enforcement and state laws was highlighted in Santa Cruz County during last September’s raid of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana’s Davenport garden.
About 167 plants were uprooted by federal drug agents, and co-founders Mike and Valerie Corral were briefly jailed. No charges have been filed.
Ben Rice, an attorney for the cooperative, said that while he wasn’t optimistic a federal measure would pass, he welcomed the proposed legislation.
“The WAMM and Rosenthal cases have really galvanized national attention to the problem we have here,” Rice said. “I think this is a terrific move.”
While the DEA hasn’t filed charges, WAMM has gone on the offensive, filing suit against the feds.
Having lost the first round of a court battle to get the marijuana back, the group is appealing the decision.
The group also plans to seek an injunction prohibiting similar raids in the future. The county and city have voted to join that suit as plaintiffs.
Contact Brian Seals at bseals (at)

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missing the point

The federal government has no constitutional authority to prohibit food or drugs. Go look at the Controlled Substances Act for yourself and compare it with the constitution. The Act merely asserts authority that doesn't actually exist in the constitution -- a power grab, in other words -- and people have gone along with it for over 30 years. What bluffers the feds are. Even congressmen like Farr and Rohrabacher seem too cowed to actually compare the law with the constitution and realize that the right thing to do is not to patch the law, but to repeal it outright. Or, perhaps, strike it down in the courts via the WAMM suit or the Rosenthal appeal.

Think this through. Prohibition of alcohol (food OR drug, take your pick) required a constitutional amendment. That amendment was repealed, in part because prohibition is perhaps the worst approach to take in the case of food or drugs, causing many more social problems that it can possibly solve. No other amendment establishing authority to control food or drugs was ever passed. The Controlled Substances act creates Prohibition II out of an arbitrary, unsupported assertion that all drug traffic (no exceptions) is part of "interstate commerce." This includes such things as medical marijuana, which can nevertheless be shown to be completely a matter of intrastate (within-state) commerce, over which the federal government has no authority.

Rohrabacher and Farr need no new legislation, especially a bill that respects and therefore helps to legitimize the completely unconstitutional Controlled Substances Act. All they need is to find their courage to assert the 9th and 10th Amendments of the US constitution as the basis for repealing the Act in Congress or overturning it in the courts.

Practically, immediate passage of an act that recognizes med-pot and establishes a med-pot defense against federal prosecutions based on the Controlled Substances Act, would help ease the suffering of real people a lot more quickly than the long process of congressional repeal or court system appeal. I worry, though, that a lessening of the public outrage over the med-pot issue will serve to give the Controlled Substances Act a new lease on life, when we really all need to preserve, protect, and defend our constitution by demanding the elimination of unconstitutional acts such as the one that provides the bogus foundation of the Drug War, Prohibition II.

Oppose Local Repression on Medical Marijuana Users!

So that we don't spend all our time whining at the feds, I reprint the following commentary I made back in January:

More Nuz Schmoozing
by Robert Norse 2:57am Sun Jan 12 '03
rnorse (at)

Deputies did collude in the Corral raid and Sheriff Mark Tracy declined to publicly repudiate this policy.

Local activist Richard Quigley has done an excellent analysis of Tracy's policy here, pointing out that the feds, in the absence of a specific court order
around Proposition 115, were in violation of state law.

Good Times, Metro Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Sentinel, and the San Jose Mercury-News (as well as The Alarm) have fastidiously avoided any discussion of the complicity of local authorities--including Deputies, SCPD, Board of Supes, and City Council in criminalizing medical marijuana use IN FACT, regardless of what they say for media consumption.

City Council’s notorious “zone away the buyers clubs” law of 2000 has made sure that only the small WAMM group can operate (leaving 80% of medical marijuana patients shit
out of luck).

Sarah Phelan, Laurel Cheskey, and Phar Meiss, should be particularly ashamed of their failure to expose the facts here.

For more information, check santacruz indymedia stories:
“A Letter to City Council” by Kate Wells Dec 10-02 (posted as comment)
"City Council: Time to Act Locally on Medical Marijuana!"
by Robert Norse 10:05pm Fri Oct 11 '02
"Time For Real City Council/Supervisor Action Not Political Posturing" by Robert Norse 10:41pm Tue Sep 17 '02 (Modified on 2:18pm Fri Sep 20 '02)

Quigley's analysis

The analysis by Richard Quigley, referred to in Norse's supplementary comment, above, is something that everyone should read. Quigley is the fellow who actually bothered to look at the California Constitution, and then pointed out, correctly, that the constitution requires officials such as the governor and even Sheriff Tracy, to enforce state law, even when it conflicts with federal law, unless it has been struck down in an appellate court. Prop. 215 has never been invalidated in either a federal or state court, which suggests that the legally right thing for the Sheriff to have done in the case of the DEA raid of WAMM, was to OPPOSE the feds, not cooperate with them.

If necessary, Davis ought to be calling out the National Guard to oppose the DEA raids that violate Prop. 215. Not only is the Controlled Substances Act unconstitutional at the federal level, it has inspired many of our state and local leaders to violate their own oaths to uphold California's constitution, on top of disrespecting the will of the California people.

"Controlled Substances Act" delenda est.


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