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Much Heralded Class Action Medical Marijuana Suit Finally Filed


July-August 1998

164 people from 49 states are the named plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit brought in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia demanding that laws prohibiting the medical use of marijuana be struck down as unconstitutional. The suit was filed by attorney Lawrence Elliot Hirsch, who discussed the imminent filing of this suit at the Drug Policy Foundation's November 1996 Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Philadelphia Legal Intelligencer reported on the suit, saying, "Even before reading some of the over-the-top rhetoric, the lawsuit itself stands out from the crowd, weighing in at 128 single-spaced pages packed with more than 78,000 words -- hardly a model of compliance with Rule 9(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure which call on lawyers to draft lawsuits in the form of a `short, plain statement.'" The paper added that the suit resembles "a slew of papers one might find in a courthouse file after a case has been in litigation for many months. ... In other words, it looks like it could function as a lawsuit, depositions, responses to a motion to dismiss, expert witness report, and a brief in opposition to a summary judgement motion all wrapped up in one. Add to that a political manifesto, a closing argument, press releases, a few chapters from a history book, and a glossary of important terms" (Shannon P. Duffy, "New Call to Legalize Cannabis," Legal Intelligencer (Philadelphia), July 21, 1998).

The complaint is online at <>.