Federal judge orders closure of six Northern California pot clubs

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge ordered closure of six medical marijuana clubs in Northern California, saying prosecutors were likely to prove the clubs were violating antidrug laws.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer rejected the clubs’ argument that they were entitled to furnish the drug because their customers, many of whom suffer from AIDS or cancer, cannot survive without marijuana to ease pain and the side effects of therapy.
A “medical necessity” defense might be available in individual cases, but can’t be used by a club that distributes marijuana to a large number of patients with different diseases, Breyer said Thursday.
In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, which changed state law to allow patients suffering from certain serious illnesses to possess marijuana for medical use, with a doctor’s recommendation.
But the Clinton administration, which fought the initiative both before and after its passage, filed civil suits in January to halt operation of six clubs — two in San Francisco and one each in Oakland, southern Marin County, Santa Cruz and Ukiah.
Federal prosecutors argued that national antidrug laws override the proposition.