Oregon's top lawyer OKs medical marijuana use
June 17, 2005
Teresa Carson, ReutersOregon's attorney general gave the state the go-ahead on Friday to resume issuing cards that allow sick patients to smoke marijuana despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling the federal government could prosecute medical use of the drug. 'The (Supreme Court) decision has no legal impact on the operation of Oregon's program,' according to a statement by Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers' office. Oregon had stopped issuing new prescription marijuana cards until the state's top lawyer could review the Supreme Court's June 6 decision. The court held in a 6-3 ruling the U.S. government could enforce a federal law prohibiting the cultivation, possession and use of medical marijuana even in the 10 states where it is legal under state law. Two seriously ill women had pressed a legal challenge to convince the high court that individuals should be able to use marijuana for medical purposes. Myers found the Supreme Court decision 'does not hold the state laws regulating medical marijuana are invalid nor does it require states to repeal existing medical marijuana laws.' It also did not force the state to enforce federal drug laws, according to Myers. He said in his statement the Supreme Court decision would not alter Oregon's program and that the state was not obligated to tell patients they could be prosecuted under federal laws. Oregon has issued 10,421 medical marijuana cards, the vast majority of them for severe pain, according to the Oregon Department of Human Services, which runs Oregon's prescription pot plan. Oregon voters approved the program in 1998. Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Vermont and Washington also have some type of medical marijuana laws. 'As far as we know, we are not aware of any other states that put any kind of moratorium on their programs. The Supreme Court decision simply maintained the status quo,' said Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington.