In 1996 DPA spearheaded passage of the nation’s first medical marijuana law. California’s Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, allows patients to use marijuana for medicinal purposes with a doctor’s recommendation. Despite the federal government’s efforts to stymie Prop. 215 by threatening and shutting down dispensaries, over a dozen other states have legalized medical marijuana since 1996, many of them due to DPA’s efforts.
Since the passage of Prop. 215, DPA has worked vigilantly through both legislative advocacy and litigation in federal and state courts to expand, protect, and defend medical marijuana in California. DPA was instrumental in the passage of SB 420, which established statewide guidelines and a patient and caregiver registration and ID card program to protect patients and caregivers from interference from law enforcement. DPA has worked on the local level in various cities and counties throughout the state to ensure that local medical marijuana regulations protect and monitor dispensaries so that patients have uninterrupted access to safe medicine.
DPA has also played a role in the most significant medical marijuana cases in California as either lead counsel or as amicus, starting with the landmark case of Conant v. Walters, in which DPA served as counsel of record. That case, which was ultimately won unanimously in the Ninth Circuit, upheld the right of doctors to impart their medical advice to patients and the right of patients to hear that advice. Without that victory, there would not be medical marijuana in California or any other state.
Finally, DPA has litigated or filed amicus briefs in many other cases designed to establish and protect medical marijuana in California. These cases involved issues such as establishing a medical necessity defense in federal court (OCBC), preventing the federal government from interfering with patients’ rights (WAMM), forcing resistant counties to implement SB 420’s patient ID card program (San Diego), protecting patients from employment discrimination (Ross), protecting caregivers ability to grow, provide and advise medical marijuana patients (Mentch), and establishing a patient’s right to pretrial hearing a dismissal of criminal charges (Mower).