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Related Categories: East Bay | Drug War
Angel Raich drops medical pot case
by repost via Angel
Friday May 11th, 2007 9:23 PM
Oakland medical marijuana patient and activist Angel Raich dropped her
lawsuit against the federal government Thursday, ending a five-year legal
odyssey which had taken her all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Angel Raich drops medical pot case
By Josh Richman, STAFF WRITER
Inside Bay Area
Article Last Updated:05/10/2007 03:07:10 PM PDT
http://www.insidebayarea.com/portlet/article/html/fragments/print_article.js
p?articleId=5864521
<http://www.insidebayarea.com/portlet/article/html/fragments/print_article.j
sp?articleId=5864521&siteId=181> &siteId=181

Oakland medical marijuana patient and activist Angel Raich dropped her
lawsuit against the federal government Thursday, ending a five-year legal
odyssey which had taken her all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I've lost all faith in the judicial system, I don't understand how somebody
can lose their constitutional right to life in this country," she said
Thursday. "It's been really, really hard for me these last few months, and I
wasn't happy about having to give up the case.

"But I'm really having a hard time medically speaking right now -- my brain
tumor has finally started causing damage and I have to start radiation
treatment in a couple of weeks at Stanford," she explained, adding she's
lost some sensation in the left side of her face, including problems with
blinking, chewing and swallowing.

"This is far from over, it's just a new beginning," Raich insisted -- the
battle now moves from courts to Congress. "I'm not going to give up."

She said she's talking with lawyers and lawmakers about drafting "a
right-to-life, medical necessity sort of bill. ... It's basically going to
protect the sickest of the sick, and it's going to be narrow because there
are other bills already out there." She's also continuing her work with
medical-marijuana advocacy groups, and she'll go to Washington, D.C., later
this month on a lobbying trip.

Besides the brain tumor, Raich, a 41-year-old mother of two, suffers from
scoliosis, wasting syndrome, fibromyalgia and a host of other ailments.

Raich and Diane Monson of Oroville plus two unnamed providers sued the
government in October 2002 to prevent any interference with their medical
marijuana use, but this case's seeds actually were sown in the Supreme
Court's May 2001 decision on the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative's case.

The court in that earlier case had ruled there's no collective medical
necessity exception to the federal ban, which defines marijuana as having no
valid medical use. But it didn't rule on constitutional questions underlying
the medical marijuana debate, so Raich, Monson and their lawyers tailor-made
a case raising exactly those issues.

A federal judge in San Francisco rejected their arguments in March 2003, but
a 9th Circuit appeal panel later reversed that ruling, finding the
plaintiffs could prevail at trial on their claim that the Constitution's
Commerce Clause lets Congress regulate only interstate commerce, and that
Californians' medical marijuana use neither crosses state lines nor involves
money changing hands.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case in November 2004 and in June 2005
ruled 6-3 to uphold the federal ban, finding that even marijuana grown in
back yards for personal medical use can affect or contribute to the illegal
interstate market for marijuana and so is within Congress' constitutional
reach.

But the 9th Circuit panel and the Supreme Court at that point had dealt only
with the Commerce Clause argument, not other constitutional issues. Monson
dropped out, but Raich pressed on as the case returned to the 9th Circuit
for those other arguments.

Though clearly sympathetic to Raich's medical plight, a three-judge 9th
Circuit panel concluded in March that medical necessity doesn't shield
medical-marijuana users from federal prosecution, and that medical marijuana
use isn't a fundamental right protected by the Constitution's guarantee of
due process of law.

Raich could've asked that the March decision be reviewed by a larger,
11-judge 9th Circuit panel; or that it be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme
Court; or that it return to U.S. District Judge Martin Jenkins of San
Francisco for a few unresolved issues.

But Robert Raich, her ex-husband and one of her attorneys, said Thursday the
legal avenues left to them "did not look fruitful. It's a sorry commentary
that right now we simply cannot depend on the courts to uphold fundamental
rights, even the right to life."

Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in
Washington, D.C., said Congress is where Raich is needed most, as the House
this summer probably will take up -- for the fifth consecutive year -- a
bill to forbid federal prosecution of patients in the 12 states with medical
marijuana-laws.

Last year's vote on the bill by Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., and Rep. Dana
Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, was 259-163 against the amendment. The
measure received 161 votes in 2005; 148 in 2004 and 152 in 2003; it would
need 218 to pass.

Contact Josh Richman at jrichman [at] angnewspapers.com or (510) 208-6428.


Compassion and Justice,
Angel Raich
http://www.angeljustice.org <http://www.angeljustice.org/>
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