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Supreme Court votes 8-0 against medical marijuana

WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. Supreme Court ruled May 14 there is no exemption to the federal ban on marijuana distribution even for patients who claim it is medically necessary.

According to the Associated Press, the justices voted 8-0 in ruling against an Oakland marijuana club that had distributed the illegal substance under a California law allowing seriously ill patients and those who primarily care for them to possess and manufacture marijuana for medical reasons with a doctor’s recommendation. Associate Justice Stephen Breyer did not participate in the proceedings because his brother, Charles, ruled in the case at the federal court level.

The Controlled Substances Act makes it clear “Congress has made a determination that marijuana has no medical benefits worthy of an exception,” Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the court’s opinion, AP reported. “Unwilling to view this omission as an accident, and unable in any event to override a legislative determination manifest in a statute, we reject the cooperative’s argument.”

The arguments in United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative marked the first time the Supreme Court has reviewed a court decision on a state’s approval of medical marijuana.

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, allowing the possession and manufacture of marijuana for medical reasons. Numerous private groups, known as “cannabis clubs,” were established to provide the drug to patients.

The federal government sought to shut down the clubs and won in district court, where Charles Breyer blocked the groups from cultivating or distributing marijuana. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, disagreed with Breyer last year. The appeals court returned the case to Breyer, who agreed with the request of the “cannabis clubs” and ruled marijuana could be distributed when it is medically necessary. At the request of the Department of Justice, the Supreme Court voted 7-1 in August to block the federal judge’s order.

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Family Research Council and other opponents of medical marijuana have argued not only is the drug harmful and a gateway to addiction to other drugs but its backers compose a front for the legalization of drugs.

FRC filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the federal government. Among those filing briefs in behalf of the marijuana club were the ACLU, the California Medical Association and the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws.