Fed Court Sets Hearing In Medical Marijuana Voting Rights Case


The Weed Blog

In a case that could change everything, a hearing has been ordered in the voting rights case brought by medical marijuana patients against the federal government.

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Guilford set March 26 to hear arguments regarding whether federal authorities should be enjoined from sending letters ordering the closure of medical marijuana collectives in Costa Mesa, California.

The patients in the case allege they have been denied the right to vote on medical marijuana legalization despite Congress’s December 2009 decision to grant that right to Washington, D.C., voters. A team of likeminded attorneys has now started working cooperatively to defend disabled patients’ rights on this case and additional suits.
“It is anomalous for the U.S. Attorney to claim that marijuana has no medical value based on the more than 40-year-old Controlled Substances Act considering Congress allowed the District of Columbia to vote on and implement its ‘Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Purposes Act’ in 2009,” Matthew Pappas, an attorney on the case, told Toke of the Town Wednesday morning.

“When Congress gives one group of citizens the right to vote on something, it is inappropriate to deny that same voting right to others,” said Charles Farano, an attorney in the case.
D.C.’s medical marijuana law was the first time that the United States Congress has ever given its explicit assent to any state or local law that permits the medicinal use of marijuana. According to the attorneys bringing the case, that is enormously significant under the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Pappas Law Group
Attorney Matthew Pappas: “Congress has turned over the area of medical marijuana to state and local governments”

​In 2009, noting that it was “allowing” the voters of Washington, D.C., to vote on and implement t that city’s Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment law, Congress approved medicinal cannabis in the federal District of Columbia, over which it has governmental power.
“The states can only decriminalize medical marijuana because of the Supremacy Clause,” Pappas told us Wednesday morning. “However, Congress, as the de facto ‘state legislature’ in the District, reviews each and every legislative action and, unlike the states, is not subject to the Supremacy Clause. By allowing District residents to vote on and legalize medical marijuana, it is saying that marijuana has medical value in Washington, D.C., but not in California.”
The case, James v. United States, was filed by Farana, David Welch, and Pappas on behalf of patients who allege loss of access to medicinal cannabis after federal letters were sent ordering the shutdown of all collectives in Lake Forest and Costa Mesa, both cities in Orange County, California.
“States with medical marijuana programs should now be free from federal interference since Congress has allowed local control,” attorney Pappas of Pappas Law Group, based in Long Beach, California, told Toke of the Town last month. “Congress being the legislative branch of the federal sovereign and the only body that can change these laws has now done so by recognizing the voting rights of Washington, D.C., citizens.”

​”Through Congress’s duty to equally protect everyone under the law, all patients in states with medical marijuana laws operating in full compliance with those laws should not, from now forward, be subject to previous longstanding federal marijuana prohibitions,” Pappas said.
“They’re not going to be subject to the CSA [Controlled Substances Act],” Pappas confirmed to Toke of the Town in a telephone conversation. “In our country, when one group of voters has been given the right to vote on something, other voters, likewise, have the right to do so — in this case, approve medical marijuana.”
The patients are asking the court to prohibit the federal government from ordering the shutdown of medical marijuana collectives properly operating under state law.
According to the attorneys, medical marijuana patients in all 16 states and the District of Columbia which have legalized medicinal cannabis are equally protected and have the same voting rights in respect to medical marijuana.
“Our traction in the courts is very strong on this issue,” Pappas told Toke of the Town. “I’m very positive that at some point we’re going to have a decision from the courts.”