Still Smokin’? Maybe So, Maybe Not: Supreme Court, Medical Marijuana, and California

marijuana031904_fig1_2So medical marijuana is safe or is it? The Huffington post declared “Supreme Court Hands Medical Marijuana Major Victory,” because the Supreme Court refused to hear a case from San Diego County “arguing that the federal ban on marijuana trumps the state law, meaning they are not required to follow the state law.” Yet, almost simultaneously, Judge Marilyn Patel ruled against alleged medical marijuana grower, Charles Lepp, and sentences him to ten years. Judge Patel’s ruling seems to be based on facts that belie the medical marijuana defense and a religion-based defense. Still, she also said “I have to say I think that amount of time is excessive. But it is not up to me to legislate, it is up to Congress.” Apparently, Judge Patel indicated that she might reconsider the ruling if sentencing laws change.

So here’s a possible safety tip: even if the state law is not pre-empted by federal law, one may want to make sure one is in compliance with the state law. In addition, if it is true that supporters of Lepp yelled, “She’s a criminal! She’s a drug war criminal!” about Judge Patel and “screamed” at Assistant U.S. Attorney David Hall, that his prosecution was tantamount to a war crime so much so that he would be charged, “just like Cheney,” it may be time for the legalize marijuana movement to find some other spokespersons. Although I believe that some or many believe these views, I am not so sure that this tactic wins any converts. Indeed, it probably distances those who may be sympathetic.

Image: cannabis indoor growing
Source: Wikicommons; and DEA
License: Public Domain

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