The Medicinal Cannabis Defense: No, No, No; Not in Federal Court

There is one thing both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump agree on and that is the system is rigged. While these politicians were addressing our current political system, the rigged system extends its tentacles into the courtroom, and in the case of a human’s right to use a plant they can grow themselves as a medicine, the first rigging was the law.

The American Medical Association (AMA) actually testified against the Marihuana Tax Act in 1937 but Congress passed it anyway. Cannabis has been used as a medicine for over 4,000 years, yet at present, our federal courts have denied a medical necessity defense for the use of cannabis. This is not in keeping with the principles embodied in the Bill of Rights.

Science, justice and common sense demand that the federal government allow defense of possession of cannabis for medicinal purposes be based on the Constitution and common sense. The 9th and10th Amendments to the Constitution are there to limit the reach of the federal government, yet a so-called conservative judiciary has set up a system designed not to support the Constitution, but to circumvent it.

Due to an electoral primary system never endorsed by our founding fathers, we have more and more partisan legislators. This has been exacerbated by the wide use of outrageous gerrymandering. As a consequence of these two factors the U.S. has a highly politicized judiciary. This has led to rulings that have the founders turning over in their graves.

The American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine believes that the doctrine of excluding medical necessity as a defense in federal court is just one more example of justice gone awry. Keeping evidence from a jury does not constitute nor promote justice. Medical necessity is a well-accepted principle of common law. Medical necessity has been accepted as a criminal defense for hundreds of years and is recognized in most states as a defense. Yet, somehow, when it comes to cannabis (marijuana), particularly at the federal level, this principle disappears.

If a patient is not allowed to present a medical defense in court, it makes a mockery of the criminal justice system. As a physician and American citizen, I believe there is something fundamentally wrong with this picture.

Cannabis has a long history of medical use throughout all cultures. Nearly half today’s U.S. population has voted that it should be treated as a medicine. Further, tincture of cannabis, has already been approved for sale by governments in Canada, Great Britain, Spain and New Zealand and marketed by Bayer AG and GW Pharmaceuticals. Novartis and Oksuka have purchased distribution rights.

The worst yet, American policies on cannabis are clearly anti-science. It is time for the federal government to once again honor the time-tested values of the U.S. constitution and support justice embodied in the common law, common sense and rooted in science.

About the Author

David Bearman, M.D.

Dr. Bearman is one of the most clinically knowledgeable physicians in the U.S. in the field of medicinal marijuana. He has spent 40 years working in substance and drug abuse treatment and prevention programs. Dr. Bearman was a pioneer in the free and community clinic movement. His career includes public health, administrative medicine, provision of primary care, pain management and cannabinology.

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