Alexander Hymowitz – Conant v. Walters

Alexander Hymowitz – Conant v. Walters
CANNANNEW REPORT

Alexander Hymowitz 309 F.3d 629 (9th Cir. 2002) Overview This case stemmed from an appeal for a permanent injunction entered to protect doctor’s First Amendment rights. Specifically, the case revolved around the federal government revoking a physician’s license to prescribe controlled substances which in this specific instance referred to the physician’s professional “recommendation” of the use of medical marijuana. Facts Plaintiffs were patients suffering from serious illnesses. The physicians, in this case, were licensed to practice in California and to treat patients with serious illnesses. Both plaintiff and the prescribing doctors were members of larger medical organizations. The patient organization is Being Alive: People with HIV/AIDS Action Coalition, Inc. The physician’s organization is the Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights. Plaintiffs filed this action in early 1997 to enjoin enforcement of the government policy insofar as it threatened to punish physicians for communicating with their patients about the medical use of marijuana. Issue The question that the 9th circuit looked at was very specific. The question was, is the government’s policy of investigating doctors or initiating proceedings against doctors only because they “recommend” the use of marijuana an infringement of the patients and the doctors’ First Amendment rights? Analysis The Court, in this limited analysis, explained, that the First Amendment right extended to patient-doctor relationships and allowed physicians to discuss the medical benefits of cannabis in certain scenarios. The Court writes, “The doctor-patient privilege reflects “the imperative need for confidence and trust” inherent in the doctor-patient relationship and recognizes that “a physician must know all that a patient can articulate in order to identify and to treat disease; barriers to full disclosure would impair diagnosis and treatment.” Trammel v. United States, 445 U.S. 40, 51, 63 L. Ed. 2d 186, 100 S. Ct. 906 (1980). The Supreme Court has recognized that physician speech is…

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Source : Alexander Hymowitz – Conant v. Walters

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