Conant v. Walters

(2002): The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the federal government could not punish, or threaten to punish, a doctor merely for telling a patient that his or her use of marijuana for medical use is proper. However, because it remains illegal for a doctor to "aid and abet" a patient to obtain marijuana or conspire with him or her to do so, the court drew the line between protected First Amendment speech and prohibited conduct as follows -- A physician may discuss the pros and cons of medical marijuana with his or her patient, and issue a written or oral recommendation to use marijuana within a bona fide doctor-patient relationship without fear of legal reprisal. And this is so, regardless of whether s/he anticipates that the patient will, in turn, use this recommendation to obtain marijuana in violation of federal law. On the other hand, the physician may not actually prescribe or dispense marijuana to a patient, or recommend it with the specific intent that the patient will use the recommendation like a prescription to obtain marijuana. There have been no such criminal or administrative proceedings against doctors to date. Click to view the ruling.