NewsBriefs BUTTONS

Judge Rules Ban on Medical Marijuana Prescription is Unconstitutional


December 1995

In the first ruling of its kind, a Superior Court Judge in Washington state ruled that laws banning doctors from prescribing marijuana to patients are unconstitutional (Jane Hadley, "State Marijuana Ban Ruled Unconstitutional," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 14, 1995, p. B1).

Attorney Ralph Seeley, a cancer patient, filed a declaratory judgement that the prohibition on medical marijuana violates his needs and rights under the state Constitution. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) argued that marijuana has no known medical benefits. Seeley testified that only anecdotal evidence supports marijuana's benefits because the DEA has effectively blocked research about the drug. "It would be unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance," he testified.

Judge Rosanne Buckner ruled that Seeley's need for marijuana to mitigate the effects of his chemotherapy outweighs the state's reasons for keeping it illegal. She said that marijuana should be moved from Schedule I to Schedule II, thus making it available to doctors to prescribe it as they can opium and morphine.

Attorney General Christine Gregoire said the state will appeal the decision.

[For more information about this unpublished case, contact the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws at 1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1010, Washington, DC 20036, 202-483-5500 or Jeffrey Steinborn, Esq. at 3000 Smith Tower, 506 2nd Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104, 206-622-5117.]