Two Northern California mothers have vowed to fight on undeterred by Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing federal authorities to continue arresting people like themselves.
A 39-year-old cancer patient Angel Raich of Oakland, and 48-year-old Diane Monson of Oroville became the nation's most famous marijuana freedom fighters in 2002, after a federal raid of six pot plants at Monson's home. The women later sued U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, seeking protection from the federal government under California's 1996 voter-approved law that allows physician-recommended pot smoking.
Yet federal authorities have continued to raid pot dispensaries and private homes in the 10 states that allow medical marijuana, often working over the objections of local law enforcement.
Justice John Paul Stevens, writing Monday's 6-3 decision, said Congress could change the law to allow medical use of marijuana. Medicinal pot advocates are hoping a vote next week before the House of Representatives will be the first step toward such a new national law.
Oregon stopped issuing medical marijuana cards after Monday's Supreme Court ruling, but people could apparently still get pot with a doctor's prescription there and in nine other states.
And nobody in law enforcement appeared eager to make headlines arresting ailing patients.
"People shouldn't panic. There aren't going to be many changes," California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said. "Nothing is different today than it was two days ago, in terms of real-world impact."
The ruling does not strike down medical marijuana laws in California, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont or Washington state. State and local authorities in most of those states said they have no interest in arresting people who smoke pot for medical reasons.
It remains to be seen whether the federal Drug Enforcement Administration is planning a crackdown. The Justice Department was not commenting.