Medical Marijuana Prosecution Confusion
January 19, 2004
, Fox News
Marijuana for medical use is legal under state law in nine states, but federal law says that the drug is not legal under any circumstance and this is causing enforcement to butt heads and leaving ailing people in pain.
Kidney cancer, diabetes and lung disease are among the ailments that give Don Nord, 57, constant pain. He's on 15 different medications but one he can no longer take because it was taken from him.
Nord is one of around 300 Coloradoans who have a state medical marijuana registry card, allowing use of the drug to ease pain from debilitating conditions.
'Right now it helps me relax,' said Nord. 'It helps me deal with the pain.'
But when a task force from the DEA raided his home in October 2003 he said they told him his card didn't mean anything to them and confiscated his pot and pipes.
Many times federal judges don't know what to do in this confusing situation but in late 2003 the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled medical marijuana patients are protected from federal prosecution as long as they grow their own, get it for free and don't sell it.
'Basically, there's a conflict of laws here,' said Denver University law professor Trish Bangert. 'He's the one who's a criminal under federal law and completely innocent under state law.'