November 10, 1999
U.S. District Judge Bars Medical Necessity Defense In Case Against McCormick and McWilliams
1999, Los Angeles, CA: A U.S. District Court judge has barred the
medical necessity defense, as well as any mention of California's Proposition
215, in the trial of medical marijuana patients Todd McCormick and Peter
McWilliams. dMcCormick and McWilliams will also not be permitted to testify on
their medical conditions. Both are accused of illegally cultivating
U.S. District Court Judge George King has countered a September ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which held that medical necessity can be a viable defense for people accused of breaking federal marijuana laws. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Justice Department asked the 9th Circuit to reconsider its decision.
"The government monopoly on justice has just handed me a 'go to jail for life' card," said McWilliams. "I now face 10 mandatory years in federal prison. I will die there. My life is over because I tried to save my life doing something my doctor recommended in a state where it is legal."
"The Constitution is under attack from many different fronts," said David Michael, Esq., McCormick's attorney. "The courts have followed precedent favorable to the government in their prosecution, but have found every way possible to avoid decisions from the same courts that recognize individuals' rights."
Both McWilliams and McCormick face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison for the cultivation of 6,000 marijuana plants. The trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 30, 1999.
For more information, please contact Tom Ballanco, Esq., attorney for Peter McWilliams at (310) 291-3659; David Michael, Esq., attorney for Todd McCormick at (530) 304-7793, or visit Peter McWilliams' web site at http://petertrial.com.
Michigan Drug Testing Program Temporary Halted By ACLU Injunction
1999, Detroit, MI: The American Civil Liberties Union won a court
injunction temporarily halting a Michigan law that orders mandatory drug testing
for welfare recipients.
The ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit against the Family Independence Agency, which administers welfare in Michigan, on Sept. 30 and filed for the temporary restraining order this Monday. U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts ruled on Wednesday in the plaintiff's favor, issuing the temporary restraining order stating that requiring tests without suspicion "is likely unconstitutional."
"Michigan's policy is the first that opens the door to forcing drug testing on the entire population," said Graham Boyd, Esq., of the ACLU Drug Policy Litigation Project. "By drug testing those who get welfare, it is a short step to testing everyone who applies for a government benefit."
A hearing is scheduled on Dec. 14 to hear arguments on whether to grant class-action status and a preliminary injunction against the testing program.
For more information, please contact Graham Boyd, Esq., at (203) 668-6112 or Kary Moss, Executive Director of ACLU of Michigan at (313) 961-7728. To view the ACLU's complaint against the Family Independence Agency please go to http://www.aclumich.org/briefs/welf930.htm.
Washington Adds Crohn's Disease To Medical Marijuana Law
1999, Seattle, WA: Washington's Medical Quality Assurance Commission
has approved a petition to add Crohn's Disease to the list of qualifying
illnesses legally treatable by using marijuana.
Crohn's Disease is an inflammatory bowel disease, characterized by severe abdominal pain, nausea, and weight loss. The state law, adopted by a state-wide voter initiative in 1998, previously allowed marijuana use for patients suffering from AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and intractable pain.
Dr. Rob Killian, the primary sponsor of Washington's initiative in 1998, supported the petition to add Crohn's Disease to the list of diseases treatable with marijuana.
"Crohn's Disease is a particularly debilitating illness, and patients have long espoused the use of marijuana to ease some of its more severe symptoms," said Killian. "By adding this illness to the list, we are further safeguarding a group of patients who need protection from criminal prosecution for using a medicine that works."
"When we drafted this initiative, we knew that there needed to be a mechanism to allow for the addition of medical conditions if information became available to show that its symptoms can be relieved by marijuana," said Killian. "We are happy to see that the system worked."
For more information, please contact Tim Killian of Washington Citizens for Medical Rights at (206) 679-4779.