2005 Archive

Medical Marijuana: Despite Ruling, Case Not Closed

The Supreme Court's ruling Monday, June 6, affirming the federal government's power to prosecute the sale and use of marijuana for medical purposes—even in California and other states where such use is legal—is not the end of the legal battle over the issue, says Professor Jesse Choper. In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Choper said the main impact of the 6-3 ruling would fall on those who sell medicinal marijuana. "Those who want to use medical marijuana are no worse off than they were before," Choper told the Union-Tribune. But he added that "there's no legal question any longer that if you dispense marijuana for any purpose, you're in violation of federal statute."

Choper said further litigation on the issue is inevitable. The court's decision left several issues of law unsettled—for instance, claims that the application of federal anti-drug statutes to patients using medical marijuana is a violation of equal protection guarantees—that are now expected to be the subject for further scrutiny in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.