Pubdate: Wed, 16 May 2001
Source: Times Record (ME)
Copyright: 2001 Times Record Inc., ASC Inc
Bookmark: (Oakland Cannabis Court Case)


Congress will have to change the 1970 Controlled Substances Act 
before states that allow the use of medical marijuana can set up 
buyers' cooperatives to supply and distribute the drug.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that it does not 
consider the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, even with a 
prescription, an exception to the federal law. The act classifies the 
drug as illegal. Period. The justices' hands are tied, all 16 of them.

Smoking marijuana offers cancer and AIDS patients relief from the 
nausea that plagues them, which then improves their appetites and 
prevents weight loss. It has also been shown to ease symptoms 
associated with multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and neurological 
problems such as epilepsy. An estimated 400 patients in Maine could 
use the relief.

Maine is one of just nine states that recognize medical marijuana. 
Here a patient may possess six plants or 1.25 ounces of the drug if 
he has a note from a doctor saying they have fully discussed its 
potential and dangers.

This is a merciful statute, but one fatally flawed because the only 
way to obtain marijuana is on the black market. Maine's distribution 
plan endorsed by two legislative committees will likely be on hold 
now, since it would conflict with federal law and Monday's ruling.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court left intact state laws allowing the 
medical use of marijuana. States may also choose not to prosecute 
people who use marijuana for medical purposes. Mainers for Medical 
Rights thinks there may be a loophole regarding states' rights. State 
vs. federal jurisdiction would be tested were Maine, or one of the 
other eight states, to establish state-authorized distribution 

Otherwise, Congress will have to revisit the 31-year-old law that 
classifies marijuana as an illegal drug. Given this administration's 
endorsement of the abysmally failing war on drugs, not much is likely 
to change while the Republicans are in power.

Meanwhile people suffering with life-threatening and debilitating 
ailments struggle on, absent a proven form of relief.
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MAP posted-by: Josh Sutcliffe