Marijuana Suit Threat Ebbs

June 13, 2005

, Honolulu Star-Bulletin

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii has backed off its threat to sue U.S.  Attorney Edward Kubo over his statements early last week that doctors could face criminal prosecution for prescribing and distributing medical marijuana. After the U.S.  Supreme Court's June 6 ruling that federal officials had authority to prosecute medical marijuana users, Kubo called the issue 'dead' in Hawaii and said doctors could face criminal charges for providing the drug to patients.

The ACLU threatened to sue, saying doctors have a constitutional right to discuss the issue of medical marijuana with patients and recommend its use.

The ACLU gave Kubo a deadline of tomorrow to formally retract the statement or face a lawsuit but said yesterday it was satisfied with comments he made Friday clarifying that doctors who merely certify patients to use medical marijuana would not be prosecuted.

Doctors could face charges, Kubo said, if they are found to be part of a larger distribution network or drug conspiracy.

There was no immediate response from Kubo's office yesterday.

Lois Perrin, the ACLU's legal director in Hawaii, said Kubo's most recent statements 'effectively retracted his threats to arrest and prosecute doctors merely for certifying marijuana use as allowed under Hawaii law.'

She said the ACLU would not file any lawsuit at this time.  'However, the ACLU remains committed to addressing potential threats against doctors for exercising their constitutional rights.'

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