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Wed, 21 Feb 2001 - San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

Attorney General Bill Lockyer urged the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday to stop federal interference with California's medical marijuana law.

The court is scheduled to hear arguments March 28 over rulings by lower federal courts that would allow the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative to distribute marijuana to patients with cancer, AIDS and other diseases who can't benefit from legal drugs.

California's Prop. 215, which paved the way for medical marijuana laws in eight other states, allowed patients whose doctors had recommended the drug to use it without risking prosecution under state law. Advocates say marijuana can have life-saving powers in combating pain, nausea and loss of appetite suffered by some AIDS and cancer patients.

But President Clinton's Justice Department invoked the federal ban on marijuana in suits seeking to shut down several Northern California dispensaries, including the Oakland cooperative.

After losing early rounds in the case, the Oakland organization, supported by city officials, scored a major victory when the federal appeals court ruled last year that patients able to show a medical necessity could obtain marijuana under Prop. 215, the Justice Department persuaded the Supreme Court to review the case.

The ruling, due by the end of June, is likely to determine the scope of medical marijuana laws in states that already have them and others that are considering them.


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