DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Getting Their Medicine Back

October 9- Associated Press reports: Two medical marijuana users filed suit Wednesday against federal authorities in an effort to try to stop government raids on pot used by sick patients.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, argues U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Drug Enforcement Administration director Asa Hutchinson are violating the Fifth, Ninth and 10th amendments as well as a commerce clause by cracking down on medical marijuana use.

Plaintiffs Angel McClary Raich of Oakland and Diane Monson of Oroville say they require medical marijuana to help ease the pain of their illnesses. Raich suffers from wasting syndrome, nausea and a brain tumor, and Monson endures chronic pain and spasms, said attorney Robert Raich, who is Angel's husband.

"We are seeking the right of these patients to obtain the medicine they absolutely need free from fear of reprisal from the federal government," he said.

October 10- The UK Times reports: A man who suffers from a painful spinal condition became the first person yesterday to be cleared by magistrates of cannabis possession on the ground of medical necessity.

Brad Stephens, 45, said that smoking cannabis was the only way to ease the pain of his spinal condition without large doses of morphine. Carmarthen Magistrates' Court was told that police found 55g (1.9oz) of the class B drug in a raid on his home.

Mr Stephens admitted in court to being a regular cannabis user but pleaded not guilty to possessing the drug. Mike Reed, for the defence, told the court: "Mr Stephens suffers from cervical spondylosis, a degenerative bone disease of the upper spine and neck. He is on a heavy dose of morphine and over time the body needs bigger and bigger doses to combat pain.

"Large doses of morphine can seriously damage health, so by taking cannabis he reduces his dependency on morphine and the potentially fatal risk. In effect, the cannabis is saving his life."

The magistrates accepted it was a medical necessity for Mr Stephens to take the drug and found him not guilty.

October 10- BC Canada?s Hope Standard reports: Hope RCMP may be the first in Canada to hold the distinction of handing over 51 marijuana plants, back to a man they had charged with possession of a narcotic for the purpose of trafficking.

Brian Carlisle, who suffers from glaucoma and various other illnesses, recently won his year long battle to have the charges dropped and to legally produce and possess marijuana for his own medicinal use. Carlisle was recently granted a license to produce and possess up to 1800 grams of marijuana from Health Canada.

October 10- The Las Vegas Sun reports: The nation's drug czar today said Nevada could face liability problems if it tries to provide marijuana to those who need it medically, a key component of Question 9.

John Walters, chief of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, was in Las Vegas today to campaign against the ballot initiative that would legalize possession of up to 3 ounces of the drug.

"There is no way to create a legal state-run system to supply it," Walters told the Las Vegas Sun editorial board today. "To knowingly produce a dangerous substance, the state could assume enormous liability costs."

Walters noted growing marijuana is still against federal law and said the state also could face the liability of producing a dangerous product.

Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, the author of the medical marijuana bill that was passed into law at the 2001 Legislature, disagreed this morning, saying her studies have found no evidence of a state being successfully sued for producing marijuana.

"There would be no liability for the state," she said. "Our Department of Agriculture has seed labs and could produce and control marijuana seed.?

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson kcnelson@premier1.net.

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