Pubdate: Thu, 16 Oct 2003
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Contact:  2003 Detroit Free Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Conant vs. McCaffrey)


Court Correctly Rules To Let Doctors, Patients Discuss It

The U.S. Supreme Court came down on the side of compassion in deciding that
federal drug warriors should back off from prosecuting doctors who recommend
marijuana use for medical purposes. 

The high court on Tuesday refused to review a lower court decision that the
federal government cannot punish doctors for discussing marijuana use with
their patients. Pot is most often suggested to remedy the extreme nausea
that accompanies treatment for cancers and AIDS. It is outlawed by the
federal government, but nine states have provisions for medical marijuana
use. Michigan is not among them, although the issue might come up here and
elsewhere, following the court's ruling. 

The Bush administration argued that public health -- not the First Amendment
free-speech rights of doctors or patients -- was at stake. Federal drug czar
John Walters regards marijuana as a "gateway drug" leading to harder stuff
and believes that supporters of its medical use are really trying to take a
first step toward legalization. 

The scientific community doesn't agree fully on the medicinal value of
cannabis, but several prominent groups, including the American Academy of
Family Physicians, have recognized its anti-nausea properties. 

Doctors don't recommend it lightly, but only as a way to make life tolerable
for some patients, including those who don't have much life left. Synthetic
versions of marijuana in pill form cost far more and must be swallowed, an
impossibility for some patients. If states are willing to allow it, the
federal government should let them be and concentrate on more pressing drug
issues: busting those who deal in large quantities of harder drugs.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk