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High Court's Case To Affect Medical Marijuana Laws 


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Source: Tennessean, The (TN)
Author: Holly Edwards, Staff Writer
Published: November 17, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Tennessean
Contact: [email protected]

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case later this month that could have national implications for medical marijuana laws.

In the case of John Ashcroft vs. Angel Raich, the court will decide whether the federal government has the constitutional authority to enforce federal drug laws in states where marijuana is grown and used for medical purposes.

Federal officials argued in court documents that the drug has never been approved for any medical use and that federal laws ban any use of marijuana. They also contend that the federal government must enforce federal laws inside state borders to combat interstate drug trafficking.

Raich maintains that marijuana is the only substance she has found that has eased her chronic and severe pain, allowed her to move again, and made her life bearable. The 39-year-old Oakland, Calif., woman suffers an array of illnesses, including scoliosis, joint problems, endometriosis, nausea, severe weight loss, seizures, fibromyalgia and an inoperable brain tumor, according to court documents.

''I am sorry. I cannot stop using medical cannabis or I will die,'' she said in court records. ''I am not giving up the miracle I have been given to save my very life. I will not go back to hell for anyone or anything. I implore the federal government not to take my life from me.''

The case arose after federal agents raided several sites where marijuana was being grown for medical use. Raich, two growers and another medical marijuana patient sued the federal government in October 2002 and asked for a court order to stop the prosecution of those who grow or use medical marijuana.

A District Court judge upheld the federal government's ability to prosecute, but a federal appeals court judge overturned that decision. The federal government then appealed, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

Arguments are scheduled to begin on Nov. 29. 

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