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April 8, 2005 - The Collegiate Times (VA Edu)

Supreme Court Could Alter Drug Cases

By Michael Krawitz, Regular Columnist

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

As I write this column the United States Supreme Court is deliberating on the fate of over 32 individuals directly and many millions more by extension. I will dedicate my next column to my opinion of the legal aspects of the case and it's meaning within the overall debate on the use of marijuana as a medicine but for now I want to just introduce a few more facts.

The case before the court is one stemming from a 2002 lawsuit filed by two medical cannabis patients, Angel McClary Raich, Diane Monson, and two caregivers, John Doe Number One, and John Doe Number Two who filed a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction against Attorney General John Ashcroft and former DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson.

They asked Judge Martin Jenkins to issue a preliminary injunction during the pendency of this action and a permanent injunction enjoining defendants from arresting or prosecuting plaintiffs, seizing their medical cannabis, forfeiting their property, or seeking civil or administrative sanctions against them for their activities.

Case info may be found at:

A decision in Ashcroft v. Raich is expected before the end of June 2005.

The following lives hang in the balance of this case:

Medical marijuana growers Bryan Epis and Keith Alden were released pending the Raich ruling. The Raich case will also affect three California medical cannabis dispensaries with cases in the 9th Circuit: the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana and the Ukiah Cannabis Buyers Club. The three cases have been bundled together as a single case, but they have different implications for the dispensaries involved.

The Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) has a high stakes interest in the outcome of the Raich case. On Sept. 5, 2002, 30 armed DEA agents raided WAMM's Davenport marijuana garden and the home of its founders, Valerie and Michael Corral. Agents chainsawed 167 marijuana plants while holding the Corrals and a patient at gunpoint. But the DEA's exit was blocked by patients who successfully negotiated for the Corrals release. No charges were ever filed.

Ed Rosenthal says if the Raich outcome is favorable, charges against him for possession and maintaining a place for cultivation would not be crimes because he was never charged with sales.

Eddy Lepp, a 57-year-old Vietnam veteran, says he and his wife, Linda Senti, were growing medical cannabis for about 4,000 patients. If Raich-Monson wins a ruling that says non-commercial, intrastate medical-marijuana transactions are not subject to federal law, it will clearly benefit Lepp.

Leroy Stubblefield, a quadriplegic Vietnam veteran from Portland, Ore., had 12 marijuana plants seized from his home in September 2002 by DEA agent Michael Spasaro.

The criminal appeals of Judy and Lynn Osburn and the related civil forfeiture action against their Ventura County ranch home of 28 years turns on the disposition of the Raich case. Judy Osburn is the former director of the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center, which was raided and shut down by the DEA in October 2001.

In March 2004 Anna and Gary Barrett became the first federal defendants permitted to tell a jury that the marijuana they grew was for medical purposes. If a jury finds that the Barretts were in compliance with California's medical marijuana laws, U.S. District Judge Nora Manella said she would direct jurors to acquit the couple. Before the Raich preliminary injunction patients who went to trial and their witnesses could not mention medical marijuana under threat of contempt charges.

When the home and offices of Marian "Mollie" Fry, M.D., and her husband, attorney Dale Schafer, were raided in 2001, the DEA took some 6,000 patient files. Fry has not yet been indicted.

San Diego activist Steve McWilliams was arrested in 2002 on cultivation charges after displaying marijuana outside City Hall.

"If we lose Raich and our own private acts are interstate commerce and the states don't have the right to define medical practice then states don't have much value for what they can do for citizens. The feds have taken over," McWilliams said.

Read more about those affected by the upcoming Raich/Monson Supreme Court decision by visiting Ann Harrison's great article in O'Shaughnessy's, the Journal of the California Cannabis Research Medical Group, at:

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