Current Events, Legal, Politics

NORML’s Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Dismissed: Breaking Down the Court’s Ruling

NORML’s lawsuit against the Obama administration, filed earlier this month, was dismissed yesterday. Plaintiffs in the case sought a temporary restraining order barring the Justice Department from taking further action against state-authorized patients and their providers.

In the end, federal Schedule I classification barred this lawsuit from gaining any ground. As explained by the court (not for the first time), Schedule I prohibits medical use sanctioned under state law (see Court Explains The Problem With NORML’s Argument, Dismisses Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Against Obama Administration.

Follow WeedPress on Facebook for more on this story. For now, here’s a full breakdown of yesterday’s ruling, with excerpts from the court ruling (described in layman’s terms as best as I could) for all six claims.

First Claim: Judicial Estoppel

“According to Plaintiffs, the Government “entered a stipulation [in Santa Cruz] predicated on an announced change in policy by the new administration and promised to abide by this new policy enunciated in the Medical Marijuana Guidance” such that “users and dispensers of medical marijuana operating in accordance with their state laws would no longer be prosecuted by the federal government under the CSA.” Pls.’ Am. Mem. at 11, 13 (emphasis added).

The Government “promised” no such thing…Plaintiffs (NORML) overlook that the stipulation for dismissal filed in Santa Cruz permitted the plaintiffs in that action to reinstitute their lawsuit in the event the Government declined to follow the guidance set forth in the Ogden memo.”

Layman’s terms:

The Government made a deal to not prosecute a medical marijuana cooperative in WAMM et al v. Eric Holder et al…but put a “gotcha” in there saying that the Government retained the right to prosecute that same case in the future if it so chose. NORML ignored the “gotcha,” and had their argument dismissed as a result.

Second Claim: Equitable Estoppel

“Estoppel by entrapment is a defense in criminal actions wherein a government official or agent leads a defendant into criminal conduct by affirmatively misrepresenting what is legal.

[N]othing in the Ogden memo affirmatively informs medical marijuana growers and distributors that their conduct is legal. To the contrary, the Ogden memo plainly states that “[t]his guidance regarding resource allocation does not ‘legalize’ marijuana or provide a defense to a violation of federal law[.]” …As such, Plaintiffs are hard pressed to claim that it was reasonable to rely on a memorandum that was not even addressed to them — and which unequivocally did not state that marijuana for medical reasons was “legal.”

Layman’s terms:

Obama’s 2009 Ogden memo, which tricked (some) people into believing that medical marijuana users were safe from federal interference, never provided any protection. The federal government never promised you jack.

Third Claim: Due Process

“Here, Plaintiffs describe the fundamental rights at issue as the “rights to bodily
integrity that may not be interfered with by the federal government” and “to consult with
their doctors about their bodies and health.” As in Raich II, Plaintiffs’ purported fundamental right conspicuously omits any reference to “marijuana.”

…Finally—and significantly—it is difficult to reconcile the purported existence of a fundamental right to use marijuana for medical reasons with Congress’ pronouncement that “for purposes of the [CSA], marijuana has no currently accepted medical use at all.” Oakland Cannabis, 532 U.S. at 491; see also 21 U.S.C. § 812(b)(1) (classifying marijuana as a Schedule I drug with no approved medical or other use).

Layman’s terms:

Marijuana is a schedule I drug federally. Until that is addressed, lawsuits like the one NORML just made are a waste of time. Focus on Schedule I, and how to get it removed.

Fourth claim: Tenth Amendment

“This claim is legally indistinguishable from the Tenth Amendment claim which the Ninth Circuit considered and rejected in Raich II. In a footnote, Plaintiffs attempt to dismiss the Raich II court’s rejection of the plaintiff’s Tenth Amendment claim as mere dicta. Pls.’ Am. Mem. at 25 n.24. Their attempt to do so is entirely specious, as this clearly was a holding of the court—which is binding on this Court.

Layman’s terms:

The court took great offense to NORML’s characterization of the court’s prior holding in Raich v. Gonzales, 500 F.3d 850 (9th Cir. 2007). NORML categorized the binding opinion as “dicta,” or “unimportant, irrelevant opinion.”

In response, the court categorized NORML’s tenth amendment claim as “entirely specious,” meaning “attractively deceptive,” and refuted their argument by saying “The exact opposite of what you claim is true.”

Fifth Claim: Equal Protection

“Plaintiffs’ fifth claim alleges that the actions threatened by Defendants in the Haag letters violate their right to equal protection. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 44-47. Specifically, they complain that Defendants are discriminating against “medical cannabis patients in
California without a rational basis” because they (1) allow patients in the federal
government’s IND program to receive medical marijuana and (2) have permitted patients
in Colorado access to medical marijuana through state-licensed distributors…

“Unlike Plaintiffs, the IND participants have committed no crime because the
CSA expressly allows marijuana use in connection with research projects funded by the
21 U.S.C. § 823(f); Oakland Cannabis, 532 U.S. at 490 (noting that the CSA contains “but one express exception, and it is available . . . for Government-approved research projects.”). Hence, IND participants are not “similarly situated” because, unlike Plaintiffs, their use of marijuana is expressly permitted by the CSA. See United States v. Wilson, 639 F.2d 500, 503 (9th Cir. 1981)…

“[T]he mere fact that Defendants have sent letters threatening legal action
under the CSA to persons in California, as opposed to Colorado, does not give rise to an
inference of improper motive. See Futernick v. Sumpter Township, 78 F.3d 1051, 1056
(6th Cir. 1996) (“There is no right under the Constitution to have a law go unenforced
against you, even if you are the first person against whom it is enforced, and even if you think (or can prove) you are not as culpable as some others who have gone unpunished.
The law does not need to be enforced everywhere to be legitimately enforced
somewhere[.]”), overruled on other grounds by Village of Willowbrook v. Olech, 528 U.S.
562 (2000).”

Layman’s terms:

It’s the Controlled Substances Act, stupid. IND Patients are authorized under the CSA. State patients are not. Just because your neighbor isn’t arrested for smoking pot doesn’t mean you won’t be arrested; if you’re both violating federal law, tough luck.

Sixth claim: Commerce Clause

“In their final claim for relief, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants’ attempt to regulate the intrastate medical marijuana business violates the Commerce Clause. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 48-52. This claim was categorically rejected by the Supreme Court in Raich I, which held that Congress has a rational basis to regulate the purely intrastate manufacture and possession of marijuana. 545 U.S. at 22. For their part, Plaintiffs “acknowledge” the “binding precedent” of Raich I, but insist that they find it “difficult to imagine that marijuana grown only in California, pursuant to California State law, and distributed only within California, only to California residents holding state-issued cards, and only for medical purposes” could be subject to federal regulation under the Commerce Clause. Id. ¶ 51. Irrespective of Plaintiffs’ views on Raich I, this Court is bound by the Supreme Court decision.”

Layman’s terms:

Commerce Clause in Raich was decided and we don’t want to hear it again.

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See the 27-page ruling dismissing the case at IowaMedicalMarijuana.Org.



4 thoughts on “NORML’s Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Dismissed: Breaking Down the Court’s Ruling

  1. This is ridiculous! You can blame Big Government for changing how law students learn the Constitution. The Constitution is NOT a “living breathing document” it is clearly written and defined by the Founding Fathers as to what they intended. Until people start to understand this we will have these problems. Why did no one challenge the validity of marjuana being made illegal in the first place? When they banned alcohol it was required that they amend the Constitution but, they did no such thing when they banned cannabis, poppies, coca or lsd. They used the “general welfare” and “interstate commerce” even though the Founding Fathers had no intention of banning things under general welfare and interstate commerce was only to prevent states from targeting one another in unfair business practices!
    Ron Paul/Gary Johnson 2012

    Posted by Vince | November 30, 2011, 9:01 am
  2. what gives me the fears is what mongsanto will do with our release of future pot because they will bend our beautiful freedom for the herb, we Will win this, and use the hole we make for pot to be their release of some kind of horrid genetic modification shit. you will see, brothers and sisters.

    Now, as to the above news, NORML is very much as Carl olsen disparages their position to be. I really agree with this guy most of the time.

    Until the two governors get their act together at the state level by declaring pot medical in their own state statutes the DEA will continue to call them insane and act like the clowns and fool posers they have been playing for many years now. I refer to Washington state and New Hampshire, I believe.

    Carl’s effort to crack the Iowa state schedule one log jam has been heroic what with the ruined mess he has been forced to work with that the Iowa legislature has clumsily left behind themselves for the public to get justice and medical evolution out of. It is, imo, very much the fault of Iowa legislature that we have no good options to change pot schedules with here in Iowa. period.

    them. for too many years now the judges have been able to hide behind ridiculous poor code in Iowa 124.

    It’s past time to tear down the curtains hiding the evil wizard of CSA 124 in Iowa and expose the fraud called due process in Iowa that is Not due process.

    The defective code issue is resolved by acceptance of the proof that other states in the United States have accepted medical marijuana statutorily by an Iowa agency that can adjust the schedules to a proper level acceptable to society, say the level of “Carrot”) just as I told McCall in court, or, more likely, throw the whole mess out and force the legislature to clean up the bathroom floor they puked that shitless code all over because there are thousands of Iowans too terrified of their doctors to talk to them right.

    The governors have decided to delete this strenuous work and get thrown out of the fed by the DEA.

    I understand. They want it handed to them if they beg correctly.


    I Demand my pot, Mr Branstadt. I am not begging. I didn’t beg him when i last spoke to him about what a stupid idea it is to burn corn in our gastanks when people are staving to death for it.

    I Demand my pot, Mr Grassley. I don’t ask the co chair and sometimes head oink of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control to accept that my pot is drastically safer than what his lies for all my adult life tell all of us Iowans it is. I flat hate it when politicians lie to me and it makes it harder when I agree with Grassley on things as well as disagree with him on this.

    Why does my party just Have to run out of money to grow a brain about knocking off the repression of us pot heads? Why? It is smart to make our fuel out of pot, not corn and that’s just One part of how powerfulo hemp is to us Iowans.

    I disagreed with Carl on why these people are so tough on us. I say, “It’s their religion to hate us pot heads.”

    I still do.

    bob manke

    Posted by suckmebush | December 14, 2011, 1:48 pm


  1. Pingback: Anonymous - December 1, 2011

  2. Pingback: Follow-up: NORML case dismissed by reviewing court | Hail Mary Jane - February 2, 2012

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