The Medical Marijuana Magazine


Federal Judge Denies Cancer Patient Prescription Medication Marinol®

Los Angeles, March 4, 1998. In a precedent-setting ruling, a federal judge denied cancer patient Todd McCormick access to "any form of marijuana," including the prescription medication Marinol®, "marijuana derivatives," and even "hemp seed oil." McCormick, who had cancer nine times before he was ten, was arrested on July 29, 1997, at the fabled "Marijuana Mansion" for medical marijuana cultivation. His bail was set at $500,000, posted by actor Woody Harrelson.

On Tuesday, however, federal Magistrate Judge James McMahon added to McCormick’s Terms of Bail Release the instruction "not use any form of marijuana, including any synthetic marijuana, any products that contain marijuana derivatives including but not limited to hemp seed oil, marinol [sic], or any other product containing cannabinoid derivatives, either with or without prescription."

McCormick recently obtained a prescription for Marinol® from his California physician. McCormick reported this to his federal Pre-Trial Services officer and to the technician performing McCormick’s twice-weekly urine tests. As expected, McCormick tested positive to THC. The words "prescription, Marinol" were added to all lab reports. McCormick’s attorney, David Michael, discussed the situation with McCormick’s Pre-Trial Services officer. Nevertheless, McCormick was called before federal Magistrate Judge James McMahon on Tuesday where the ruling was made.

The ruling greatly concerned McCormick’s attorney, David Michael. "This is an inappropriate interference with the right of a physician to prescribe and the right of a patient to be treated," Michael said. "To deny Mr. McCormick Marinol®, an FDA- and DEA-approved Schedule II prescription medication, or any other prescription medication, is a dangerous precedent. The judiciary is ill equipped to take the place of a physician in deciding what medication a patient needs."

After more than six months of chronic cancer-induced pain and reduced appetite because he could not use medical marijuana, McCormick was recently finding some relief in Marinol®, a synthetic form of THC, one of marijuana’s active ingredients.

"This ruling means I go back to pain, sleepless nights, no appetite, depression," McCormick said, noticeably shaken by the ruling. "The government won’t let me use a legal prescription drug to ease my suffering. One side of the federal government, the DEA and the FDA, say Marinol® is okay, a medicine. Another side, this court, says I can’t use it. I don’t understand."

The inconsistency continues in the "Medical Instructions" given McCormick, a set of 35 federal rules for urine testing, one of which reads:

28. Nothing in the above instructions is meant to interfere with legitimate medical treatment. Appropriate medical treatment is encouraged.

Just last week the California Supreme Court decided to let stand a lower court decision to narrowly restrict medical marijuana access under Proposition 215, now the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. The ruling dictates that cultivation is the only way in which California medical patients can legally obtain medical marijuana—no buying; no transporting over public roads.

McCormick is charged by the federal government only with marijuana cultivation—not selling, not even intent to sell.

To contact Todd McCormick: 213-650-4906 (home number)

To contact David Michael, McCormick’s attorney: 415-986-5591