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US government cannot revoke licences of doctors who recommend marijuana

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 09 November 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1058
  1. Deborah Josefson
  1. Nebraska

    A federal appeals court has unanimously ruled that the US government cannot revoke a doctor's licence and prescribing privileges or investigate a doctor for recommending marijuana to sick patients.

    The case grew out of a previous injunction against Californian doctors who prescribed marijuana for medicinal purposes and upheld a 1999 decision by US district judge William Alsup in San Francisco that barred federal prosecutors from taking action against doctors who tell patients that marijuana might be beneficial.

    Taking marijuana for medical reasons is legal in California and in several other states, but its possession and sale are still considered federal offences. In May 2001 the Supreme Court ruled against legalising marijuana for medical reasons, rejecting arguments for “compassionate use” brought before it by the Oakland Cannabis Club, a cannabis buyers' cooperative based in California (BMJ 2001;322:1270).

    In that ruling Chief Justice …

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