Two seriously ill Californians who rely on medical marijuana to relieve symptoms of their ailments plan to file a lawsuit against U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft, Drug Enforcement Administration chief Asa Hutchinson, and the federal government for barring their access to the drug. The lawsuit, to be filed in U.S. district court in Oakland, Calif., will claim that the defendants violated the Fifth, Ninth, and Tenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution by targeting for prosecution medical marijuana users and providers. A press conference by plaintiffs Angel McClary Raich and Diane Monson, their attorneys, Berkeley city councilor Kris Worthington, and Alameda County supervisor Nate Miley announcing the lawsuit will be held at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday at the California State Building in Oakland.
California is one of nine states that allow medical marijuana use. Voters in the state approved a ballot initiative in 1996 giving seriously ill patients with diseases like AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and others legal protections against prosecution for medical marijuana possession or use. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that there is no exemption in federal drug laws for medical marijuana use, fueling a series of federal raids on cannabis growers and providers in the state.
"These two terribly ill patients are showing incredible courage by daring to publicly challenge the federal government," said Robert Kampia, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project. "We believe the courts will uphold the Constitution, the right of states to protect the health of their citizens, and the right of citizens to protect themselves from pain, suffering, and death."