BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Americas
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 



The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Washington
"The federal government was alarmed as drug policy seemed to be slipping through its fingers"
 real 28k

Monday, 14 May, 2001, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
US outlaws 'medical' marijuana
Marijuana
Studies show the drug can benefit some patients
The United States Supreme Court has ended a legal battle over the medical use of marijuana, ruling that there are no circumstances which justify it.

The ruling will disappoint sufferers of diseases such as Aids, cancer and multiple sclerosis who claim that cannabis helps combat symptoms of their illnesses.


There is no currently accepted medical use for the drug, and it has a high potential for abuse

US Justice Department
In a unanimous ruling, eight Supreme Court judges said that in the Controlled Substances Act, "Congress has made a determination that marijuana has no medical benefits worthy of an exception."

The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Washington says that the ruling stops the growing movement to legalise medical marijuana in its tracks.

The case, United States v Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative and Jeffrey Jones, resulted from a government effort to shut down six California marijuana distributors.

Cannabis-buying clubs

The government sued the six cooperatives, which were formed to provide cannabis to people whose doctors had prescribed it.

Five have closed since the case first reached the courts in 1998.

The last one, the Oakland Cooperative, has restricted itself to registering potential marijuana users while fighting the case through the courts.

Rolling a marijuana cigarette
The ruling stops a movement in its tracks
In oral arguments, the government said "there is no currently accepted medical use for the drug, and it has a high potential for abuse".

It argued that the Cooperative's medical-necessity defence did not apply because disease sufferers could use synthetic alternatives to the active ingredient in marijuana.

Eight US states, including California, have held local referendums to approve the use of cannabis for medical purposes. A ninth, Hawaii, passed a law permitting it.

Last year, the US House of Representatives considered a national bill to counteract the state measures, but did not pass it.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer - the ninth judge on the court - disqualified himself from the case because his brother, a federal judge, presided over the original case.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

09 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Cannabis: What if it were legal?
14 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Record cocaine haul
17 Jul 00 | Americas
Medical users get marijuana ID cards
02 Mar 00 | Health
Cannabis 'helps MS sufferers'
21 Mar 00 | Medical notes
Cannabis: The debate
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories