SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA — In consultation with her legal team, medical marijuana patient Angel Raich has decided not to pursue further appeals in her litigation seeking the right to protect her life and health through the use of medical marijuana. Lawyers will file a notice of dismissal today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, but Raich and her supporters emphasized that her struggle will continue.
“I’m not a quitter, so this was a hard decision,” Raich said. “But I’ve lost all faith in the judicial system. Right now I need to concentrate on my health. Because my brain tumor is beginning to cause damage to the nerves, I will need to undergo radiation treatment and focus on my recovery, but as soon as I’ve recovered I am going to get back to work on taking the fight to Congress.”
“Upon analysis, the avenues left to us did not look fruitful,” said Robert Raich, attorney for the plaintiffs. “It’s a sorry commentary that right now we simply cannot depend on the courts to uphold fundamental rights, even the right to life.”
On March 14, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Angel Raich’s appeal for protection against federal arrest, based on her doctors’ testimony that medical marijuana is essential for her survival. The court left open the possibility that she could successfully raise a medical necessity defense were she to be arrested.
“The battle to protect medical marijuana patients like Angel isn’t ending. It’s simply moving to another playing field — Congress,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C., which has supported and helped to fund Raich’s litigation.
Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged that Angel Raich had made “strong arguments … that marijuana does have valid therapeutic purposes” and expressed hope that those arguments “may one day be heard in the halls of Congress.” MPP estimates that Congress will be taking up legislation this summer — the fifth summer in a row — to prohibit the U.S. Justice Department from spending taxpayer money to arrest medical marijuana patients and providers in the 12 states where medical marijuana is legal.