Medical Marijuana Use Should be Left to the States
April 11, 2007
Tom Madden, OpEd, Daily Titan (CA)
Cannabis, weed, ganja or whatever you crazy kids are calling it nowadays was passed around the Supreme Court regularly this past month, making the High Court seem rather Grateful Dead-like, minus the music, hippies and nudity (although I question what Scalia is doing under his robe sometimes).
What has gotten the Supreme Court so gaga over weed you might ask?
The answer is Angel Raich. Raich, a dying mother of two, suffering from scoliosis, a brain tumor, chronic nausea and dramatic weight loss, lost her four-year court battle with the Supreme Court last week. They ruled that Raich's preference for using marijuana instead of other prescription drugs was unlawful, and although legal in some states, medical marijuana users could be prosecuted for breaching federal drug laws if they are found using.
This debacle and its result was a below-the-belt hit to the unhealthy individuals whose marijuana use has labeled them felons in the eyes of the Supreme Court. Why is it that the court felt the need to exert its power over state governments and their court systems by using a dying woman as their defenseless pawn?
Raich was only doing what 115,000 others in 10 states are doing legally with the permission of both their trusted physicians and the state that they live in. This manner of prosecuting legal marijuana smokers should be resolved between the Supreme Court and the state courts that approved the law, instead of making examples out of a dying woman who enjoys the occasional spliff.
On a trip to Europe last January, I had the opportunity to stumble upon the Marijuana Mecca that is Amsterdam.
Although I am pretty liberal in my ways, I must admit that I was nervous and quite weary of what Amsterdam would have to offer. My overly strict Catholic education and bubble-wrapped O.C. upbringing resulted in me wondering whether or not my week would be spent with "weed fiends" searching desperately through the brick-lined streets of Amsterdam preying on camera armed tourists to find their next fix. However, what I found was a country who realized that marijuana, when used responsibly, was a better nightlife alternative than alcohol and also a proper treatment. Additionally, their heavy government focus on stomping out harsher, more damaging drugs was more understandable than our Supreme Courts handling of both Raich and the medical marijuana issue in general.
I'm not saying that we should look to Amsterdam as our moral compass - I don't think the brothel to church ratio would really work out here - nevertheless, we should realize how unreasonable the Supreme Court's decision to prosecute medical marijuana users is. Especially when the very state that the user lives in says otherwise.
Politics aside, if I had only months to live, a tumor in my brain and the feeling that paying greedy drug companies for overpriced drugs that weren't working, shouldn't I have the right to smoke whatever I wanted? Especially if the state said it was fine by them?