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Drug Regulation

July 17, 2000 - Order - District Court

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

No. C 98-00088 CRB

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF

v.

OAKLAND CANNABIS BUYERS' COOPERATIVE, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS

[Filed: July 17, 2000]

ORDER

Now before the Court is defendants' motion to modify the injunction issued on May 19, 1998, or in the alternative, to dissolve the injunction. After carefully considering the papers filed by the parties, and having had the benefit of oral argument, the motion to modify the injunction is GRANTED.

In United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, 190 F.3d 1109 (9th Cir. 1999), the Ninth Circuit reversed the Court's order denying defendants' motion to modify the injunction and instructed the Court "to reconsider the [defendants'] request for a modification that would exempt from the injunction distribution to seriously ill individuals who need cannabis for medical purposes." Id. at 1115. In doing so, the court held that this Court must consider the public interest, and that the evidence in the record "show[s] that the proposed amendment to the injunction clearly related to a matter affecting the public interest." Id. at 1114. Significantly, the Ninth Circuit also held that the government had not "identif[ied] any interest it may have in blocking the distribution of cannabis to those with medical needs, relying exclusively on its general interest in enforcing its statutes." Id. The court noted that the government "has offered no evidence to rebut OCBC's evidence that cannabis is the only effective treatment for a large group of seriously ill individuals." Id.

On remand the government has still not offered any evidence to rebut defendants' evidence that cannabis is medically necessary for a group of seriously ill individuals. Instead, the government continues to press arguments which the Ninth Circuit rejected, including the argument that the Court must find that enjoining the distribution of cannabis to seriously ill individuals is in the public interest because Congress has prohibited such conduct in favor of the administrative process regulating the approval and distribution of drugs. As a result of the government's failure to offer any new evidence in opposition to defendants' motion, and in light of the Ninth Circuit's opinion, the Court must conclude that modifying the injunction as requested is in the public interest and exercise its equitable discretion to do so.

Accordingly, the injunction issued on May 19, 1998 will be modified as follows:

The foregoing injunction does not apply to the distribution of cannabis by the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative and Jeffrey Jones to patient-members who (1) suffer from a serious medical condition, (2) will suffer imminent harm if the patient-member does not have access to cannabis, (3) need cannabis for the treatment of the patient-member's medical condition, or need cannabis to alleviate the medical condition or symptoms associated with the medical condition, and (4) have no reasonable legal alternative to cannabis for the effective treatment or alleviation of the patient-member's legal medical condition or symptoms associated with the medical condition because the patient-member has tried all other legal alternatives to cannabis and the alternatives have been ineffective in treating or alleviating the patient-member's medical condition or symptoms associated with the medical condition, or the alternatives result in side effects which the patient-member cannot reasonably tolerate.

The Court DENIES defendants' motion to dissolve the injunction. Nothing in the Ninth Circuit's decision suggests that the Court should dissolve the injunction, especially in light of the above modification.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Dated: July 17, 2000

/s/ CHARLES R. BREYER

CHARLES R. BREYER
United States District Judge

 

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