Federal Court Vetoes Marijuana For Dying Mom

March 13, 2007

Emil Steiner, Columnist, Washington Post

A wiser man than I once wondered whether stiffer sentences for suicide bombers might reduce the number of terrorists who blow themselves up. With that perhaps in mind, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, Wednesday, that even if doctors say marijuana is the only thing keeping you alive, it is still illegal for you to smoke it.

The case was brought by Angel Raich, an Oakland mother of two who suffers "from at least 10 serious medical conditions, including an inoperable brain tumor, a seizure disorder, life-threatening weight loss," scoliosis and chronic nausea. The 41-year-old had sought an injunction to prevent the government from prosecuting her for using marijuana, without which, her doctors say, she would starve to death. But according the decision "Federal law does not recognize a fundamental right to use medical marijuana prescribed by a licensed physician to alleviate excruciating pain and human suffering."

After learning the verdict, she began sobbing and said she would continue taking the drug. "I'm sure not going to let them kill me. Oh God!" And, however indirectly, that seems to be exactly what this decision will do. As one physician put it, Raich would "probably be dead without marijuana.'' And since marijuana is classified as a schedule 1 drug (no currently accepted medical use) it is legal for her doctors to prescribe her near lethal doses of morphine, but illegal for them to give her a pot brownie. Now, obviously our Government has strict procedures for changing laws (however ludicrous they may be), but given Raich's condition it seems so draconian not to make an exception.

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