Feds Can Prosecute Pot Users Despite State Laws


Federal officials may prosecute sick people who smoke pot on doctors’ orders, the Supreme Court ruled today. The justices said by a 6-to-3 vote that state medical marijuana laws don’t protect users from a federal ban on the drug, the Associated Press reports. The court majority noted that Congress could change the law to allow medical use of marijuana. The case was an appeal by the Bush administration in a case it lost in 2003. Stevens said there are other legal options for patients, “but perhaps even more important than these legal avenues is the democratic process, in which the voices of voters allied with these respondents may one day be heard in the halls of Congress.”

California in 1996 allowed residents to grow, smoke, or obtain marijuana for medical needs with a doctor’s recommendation. Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington state have similar laws. In a dissent, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said that states should be allowed to set their own rules. O’Connor said she would have opposed California’s medical marijuana law as a voter or a legislator, but that the high court was overreaching to endorse “making it a federal crime to grow small amounts of marijuana in one’s own home for one’s own medicinal use.”

Link: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2005/06/06/high_court_sides_with_states_in_pot_case

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