Washington

Washington: US Court Rebukes DEA’s Attempt to Crack Medical Marijuana Records

by Dominic Holden

Ads appearing each week on the back of the Stranger and Seattle Weekly – and similar papers on the West Coast and in Hawaii – are pretty much picking a fight with the feds: “Medical marijuana. Our doctors can help.” The ads then provide a phone number for The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation clinic, which connects patients with doctors who specialize in writing medical marijuana authorizations for the sick and dying. To the the Drug Enforcement Administration, however, THCF is flagrantly running a multi-state business that permits people to violate federal law.

On May 24th, the feds had had enough—federal prosecutor James Hagerty, at the behest of the DEA, filed a subpoena for the records of 17 individuals, 14 of whom were patients with marijuana permits from doctors at the clinic. But the subpoena had broader implications, too. 11 of those named were registered patients with Oregon’s Department of Human Services medical-marijuana program, and the subpoena also demanded that the State of Oregon turn over those patients’ private medical records to the feds.

But in a formal rebuke yesterday afternoon, a federal Judge sided with the state and the clinic, granting a motion to quash both subpoenas. “Absent a further showing of necessity and relevance, compliance with the subpoena would impact significant State and medical privacy interests and is unreasonable,” wrote Judge Robert H. Whaley of the U.S. Court Eastern District of Washington. The ruling represents a major defeat for the DEA and a victory for states with dissenting drug policies.

Washington: Marijuana medicine: Dozens of patients jam into monthly Spokane clinic seeking way to relieve their pain

By Heather Lalley

They started filing into a Spokane hotel meeting room not long after 8 a.m. Wednesday, clutching folders stuffed with paperwork.

A young woman in a pink "on the naughty list" T-shirt. An older man with gray stubble. Another man helping a child with a coloring book. Some limped in, others walked with canes and others appeared healthy.

But they all shared a goal: To qualify for doctor authorization to possess medical marijuana.

More than 50 people had appointments scheduled Wednesday at Spokane's monthly medical marijuana clinic at the Quality Inn. No walk-ins allowed.

"We've got a shortage of chairs and tables," said Henrik Rode, a Portland man working the check-in table. "A lot of times I feel more like a bouncer than a welcomer."

For the past year and a half, The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation in Portland has held monthly clinics in Spokane, in addition to several Oregon cities, Denver, and Honolulu and Hilo, Hawaii. The clinics have been so popular in Spokane that organizers are considering adding a second day each month.

Most of the patients suffer from chronic pain, but the Spokane clinic also draws a significant number of people with multiple sclerosis, given the high rate of the disease in the area, said Paul Stanford, THCF's founder.

Since 2001, the group has seen some 17,000 patients, about half of whom were seeking new prescriptions; the others wanted to renew their authorizations, Stanford said.

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