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Mar 15, 2007
Federal court rules against dying medical marijuana patient 

A medical marijuana patient whose doctor says marijuana is the only medicine keeping her alive does not have a constitutional right to stay alive, a federal appeals court ruled today.


Angel Raich, a California mother of two, uses marijuana to treat life-threatening wasting syndrome, seizures, an inoperable brain tumor, and severe chronic pain. "The court has just sentenced me to death," she said after the ruling. "My doctors agree that medical cannabis is essential to my very survival, and the government did not even contest the medical evidence ... If we don't have a right to live, what do we have left?"


Raich's lawyers argued that because her doctors believe medical marijuana is essential to her survival, prosecuting her would violate the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment guarantee that no person may be "deprived of life ... without due process of law."


In its decision, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that there is not yet a constitutional right "to make a life-shaping decision on a physician's advice to use medical marijuana to preserve bodily integrity, avoid intolerable pain, and preserve life, when all other prescribed medications and remedies have failed."


But — significantly — the court suggested that a right to medical marijuana could eventually be recognized as fundamental. The ruling says: "For now, federal law is blind to the wisdom of a future day when the right to use medical marijuana to alleviate excruciating pain may be deemed fundamental. Although that day has not yet dawned, considering that during the last ten years eleven states have legalized the use of medical marijuana, that day may be upon us sooner than expected."


MPP's grants program has paid for much of Raich's litigation. Visit to read some of the news coverage of the decision.


Because the federal courts have refused to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest, it's all the more imperative that Congress act to change federal law. MPP has led the fight in Congress over the last four years, with a record 163 House members voting for a medical marijuana amendment last summer. And, since the Democratic takeover of Congress in November, the congressional outlook for medical marijuana is now better than it has been since I co-founded MPP 12 years ago.


In fact, we have a real chance of passing federal legislation to protect medical marijuana patients this year, but we need you to stand with us. If you agree that seriously ill people should not have to live in fear of armed federal agents breaking down their doors to take away their medicine, would you please make a financial contribution to our lobbying work today?


Our track record of success is growing every year, and we can get the job done. But we're 100% dependent on supporters like you to fund our work.


This is literally a matter of life and death for Angel Raich and thousands of other patients. Would you please help us to continue fighting this battle in Congress?


Thank you,


Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.


P.S. Today also brought happier legal news, when a federal judge in San Francisco dismissed charges against marijuana policy activist Ed Rosenthal on grounds of "vindictive prosecution." Rosenthal was sentenced in 2003 to a single day in prison after a jury found him guilty of violating federal law by growing marijuana for patients. That conviction was overturned last year, and the government filed new charges, including four counts of tax evasion and one count of money laundering. U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer today dismissed those charges, ruling that the prosecutors appeared to be retaliating against Rosenthal for publicly criticizing the government.


P.P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $3.0 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2007. This means that your donation today  will be doubled.

Angel Raich can be arrested for using the only medicine that keeps her alive, court rules.

Raised in '07
Goal in '07

MPP will be able to tackle all of the projects in our 2007 strategic plan if you and other allies are generous enough to fund our work.

Popular Links:
• MPP's home page
• State-by-state medical marijuana laws
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Posted: Mar 15, 2007 12:33am


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Kathleen R.
, 2, 5 children
Corning, OH, USA
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