Volume 15 Issue 37
Montana: Supreme Court Says Patients Possess No Fundamental Right To Cannabis
Washington, DC: Nine former directors of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sent a letter last week to US Attorney General Eric Holder urging his office to actively oppose several statewide ballot measures that seek to depenalize the personal use and possession of cannabis by adults.
"We urge you to oppose publicly Amendment 64 in Colorado, Initiative 502 in Washington, and Measure 80 in Oregon," the letter states. "To continue to remain silent conveys to the American public ... a tacit acceptance of these dangerous initiatives." Signatories include every former director of the DEA since the agency's inception.
Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, Initiative 502, and Measure 80, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, all seek to amend state law to allow for the limited possession and distribution of cannabis to adults. Both Amendment 64 in Colorado and Initiative 502 in Washington hold solid leads among likely voters. This week, a Survey USA poll of Washington voters showed I-502 ahead by a margin of 57 percent to 34 percent.
Holder's office previously spoke out in 2010 against Proposition 19 in California after receiving a similar letter from past chiefs of the DEA. That measure sought to allow for the limited possession and cultivation of cannabis for adults. The measure was defeated at the polls by a vote of 46.5 percent to 53.5 percent.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500. NORML has additional details about this November's statewide and municipal ballot proposals here: http://norml.org/about/smoke-the-vote.
Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Vacillates On Medical Marijuana Issue
Helena, MT: Members of the Montana Supreme Court ruled 6 to 1 on Tuesday that patients do not possess a fundamental right to access and consume cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The decision reverses a District Court ruling enjoining the state from enforcing various provisions of a 2011 state law that limits the public's access to medical marijuana.
"In pursuing one's health, an individual has a fundamental right to obtain and reject medical treatment," Justice Michael Wheat opined for the majority. "But, this right does not extend to give a patient a fundamental right to use any drug, regardless of its legality."
He added, "A patient's 'selection of a particular treatment, or at least a medication, is within the area of government interest in protecting public health,' and regulation of that medication does not implicate a fundamental constitutional right."
The Court further opined that a patient's "right to privacy does not encompass the affirmative right of access to medical marijuana."
The majority concluded, "[T]he plaintiffs cannot seriously contend that they have a fundamental right to medical marijuana when it is still unequivocally illegal under the (federal) Controlled Substances Act."
The Court's decision allows for the state to fully implement Senate Bill 423, a 2011 law that sought to significantly limit the use, production, and distribution of cannabis among patients who possess a physician's authorization to consume the substance.
Montana voters will decide in November on Initiative Referendum 124, which seeks to repeal SB 423. Montana voters in 2004 approved patients' use of medical cannabis for qualified illnesses by a vote of 62 percent.
Full text of the decision, Montana Cannabis Industry Association et al. v State is available online at: http://missoulian.com/montana-supreme-court-ruling-on-medical-marijuana/pdf_af1ddf04-fc7e-11e1-9a80-001a4bcf887a.html.
Colorado Springs, CO: Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI) has expressed conflicting views in recent days regarding his position on the state-authorized use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
Speaking with a local Colorado Springs television station on Friday, Ryan said that he personally opposed the use of cannabis for any purpose, but also acknowledged that the issue "is up to (each individual state) to decide."
Seventeen states - including Colorado - and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that allow for the limited legalization of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
Immediately following Ryan's public remarks, however, campaign aids told reporters that Ryan "agrees" with Presidential candidate Mitt Romney views opposing any liberalization of cannabis prohibition. Romney has previously stated: "I would not legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. ... I know there are some on the Democratic side of the aisle who will be happy to get in your campaign. But I'm opposed to it, and if you elect me president, you're not going to see legalized marijuana. I'm going to fight it tooth and nail."
In Congress, Rep. Ryan in May voted against legislation that would have limited the federal government from interfering in states that allow for the physician-authorized use of cannabis.
As a Presidential candidate in 2008, President Obama pledged to cease utilizing "Justice Department resources to try and circumvent state laws" - a position he has failed to uphold while in office. Obama's running mate, Vice President Joe Biden, sponsored legislation as a Senator to institute the Office of National Drug Control Policy, among other anti-drug laws and drug sentencing provisions.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director at (202) 483-5500. NORML has additional details about the federal Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates here: http://norml.org/about/smoke-the-vote.