Has Congress officially legalized the medical use of marijuana? Now that Washington D.C.’s medical marijuana program is moving forward, a lawsuit against the federal government seeks to find out.
Naming Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray as Defendants Sibley v Obama et al could end up being the biggest medical marijuana case since the 2005 case Gonzales v Raich. The Plaintiff in this case, glaucoma patient and D.C. dispensary applicant Montgomery Sibley, seeks a court order preventing the Department of Justice from enforcing the federal Controlled Substances Act in the District of Columbia until the legal ambiguity surrounding the District’s program is resolved.
In his argument, Sibley establishes and clarifies his attempts to be a law abiding citizen:
“Plaintiff has: (i) filed his “Letter of Intent” to operate a medical marijuana cultivation and/or dispensary operation pursuant to the D.C. Medical Marijuana Act and the Rules promulgated thereunder with the District of Columbia, (ii) entered into an agreement in January 2011 to lease certain property in the District of Columbia for the express purpose of growing and/or dispensing medical marijuana and (iii) organized with others by telephone and/or email for a license to grow medical marijuana under the D.C. Medical Marijuana Act. Finally, Plaintiff has been diagnosed as having glaucoma by an Optometrist and thus will be seeking to become a “qualifying patient” to use Medical Marijuana as authorized under the D.C. Medical Marijuana Act.” — September 1, 2011 Amended Complaint in SIBLEY v. OBAMA et al
Having talked by phone and email about dispensing marijuana, Sibley could still be charged with a conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance at the federal level. While D.C.’s medical marijuana program offers legal protection to applicants within the District, the program does not protect applicants from federal prosecution. Not only that, the D.C. medical marijuana program specifically asks applicants to waive future defenses to federal prosecution!
If Sibley, or any other applicant, applies for the medical marijuana permit by September 16th, he or she will be required to sign a Medical Marijuana Program Cultivation Center Acknowledgment and Attestation Form as part of the application process. The last sentence of Line 11, part (c) of the form, reads:
“The District of Columbia’s law authorizing the District’s medical marijuana program will not excuse any registrant from any violation of the federal laws governing marijuana or authorize any registrant to violate federal laws.”
Signing this form, argues Sibley, is a violation of the Fifth Amendment, as Sibley argues that requiring applicants to sign this form is a violation of the fifth amendment:
“The rules and practices of the Defendant Mayor and Defendant DOH, both on their face and as applied, expose Plaintiff to a real and appreciable risk of self-incrimination and thus violate the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.” —September 1, 2011 Amended Complaint in SIBLEY v. OBAMA et al
Raising a Fifth Amendment challenge to the District’s rules for medical marijuana, plus arguing for Congressional “repeal by implication” of the Controlled Substances Act, Sidney v Obama et al has huge potential for the medical marijuana movement! As the 2012 election reaches ever closer, medical marijuana lawsuits in Arizona and Iowa, and now, Washington D.C., will have some interesting rulings on the constitutionality of marijuana prohibition.
The disappointing result in Gonzales v Raich was NOT the final say, no matter how many times Drug Warriors point to that incomplete ruling. I hope other D.C. applicants are paying attention to this groundbreaking case. You can be sure I am. Follow WeedPress on Facebook for more on this case as it develops.