Tag Archives: marijuana

Federal Judge Dismisses NORML Lawsuit: Obama’s Crackdown on Medical Pot is Constitutional

A federal judge in Sacramento dismissed the NORML Legal Committee’s lawsuit against the Department of Justice, Attorney General Eric Holder, and DEA Director Michele Leonhart.
March 2, 2012

A federal judge in Sacramento this week dismissed a federal lawsuit filed in November by members of the NORML Legal Committee against the US Department of Justice, US Attorney General Eric Holder, and DEA Director Michele Leonhart. The lawsuit, one of four filed simultaneously in the state’s four federal districts, argues that the Justice Department’s ongoing crackdown against medical marijuana providers and distributors in California is in violation of the Ninth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution because the use of cannabis therapeutically is a fundamental right. Petitioners also argue, using the theory of judicial estoppel, that the Justice Department had previously affirmed in public memos and in statements made in federal court that it would no longer use federal resources to prosecute cannabis patients or providers who are compliant with state law.

On Wednesday, US District Judge Garland Burrell, Jr., rejected those arguments and and granted the respondent’s dismissal motion. He denied petitioners request for public hearings prior to making his ruling.

Judge Burrell rejected plaintiffs’ Ninth and Tenth Amendment challenges, finding: “Since the Supreme Court has held the that CSA’s (federal Controlled Substances Act) categorical prohibition of the possession, manufacturing, and distribution of marijuana does not exceed Congress’ authority under the Commerce Clause (Article I Section 8, Clause 3 of the US Constitution), plaintiffs do not have a viable claim.”

He also rejected plaintiffs’ equal protection arguments, finding that the Justice Department’s actions in California mimic efforts the federal government has taken against “similarly situated individuals” elsewhere. Judge Burrell also cited court rulings finding that defendants in previous challenges have failed to meet the “heavy burden of proving the irrationality of the schedule I classification of marijuana.”


Marijuana smoke not as damaging to lungs as cigarette smoke

January 10, 2012

Using marijuana carries legal risks, but a new study shows that the consequences of occasionally lighting up do not include long-term loss of lung function, according to a new study by University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers published in the January 11, 2012, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Marijuana is the most commonly used  in the United States, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. In 2009, 16.7 million Americans ages 12 and older reported using  at least once in the month prior to being surveyed. In addition, since 1996, 16 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the medical use of marijuana to help manage the symptoms of many diseases, including cancer, AIDS and glaucoma.

“With marijuana use increasing and large numbers of people who have been and continue to be exposed, knowing whether it causes lasting damage to lung function is important for public-health messaging and medical use of marijuana,” says the study’s senior author, Stefan Kertesz, M.D., associate professor in the UAB Division of  and with the Center for Surgical, Medical and Acute Care Research and Transitions at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Birmingham.

Kertesz says it’s long been known that  has many irritant chemicals found in tobacco smoke and can cause lung irritation, wheezing and cough immediately after use; however, the research on long-term effects on lung function have inconsistencies.

Using a large national database, the research team compared the lung function of marijuana and tobacco smokers during a 20-year period. The data revealed that  had exactly the effect shown in all prior studies — increasing a person’s cumulative exposure to cigarettes results in loss of air flow and lung volumes; the opposite was true for marijuana smoke.

“At levels of marijuana exposure commonly seen in Americans, occasional marijuana use was associated with increases in lung air flow rates and increases in lung capacity,” Kertesz says. “Those increases were not large, but they were statistically significant. And the data showed that even up to moderately high-use levels — one joint a day for seven years — there is no evidence of decreased air-flow rates or lung volumes.”

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