Pubdate: Wed, 01 Dec 2004
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)
Copyright: 2004 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Should Americans suffering from AIDS or cancer be allowed to smoke
marijuana to ease their pain?

The voters of California think they should -- as long as the patient's
doctor agrees.

Absolutist drug warriors in the White House and Congress, however,
believe strict federal rules outlawing all marijuana use supersede
state and local authority. Even brain cancer patients like Angel Raich
of Oakland, Calif., must not be allowed to use medical marijuana.

Raich and a woman with a degenerative spine disease who grew her own
marijuana filed suit against the federal government in 2002 after
their homes were raided by federal drug agents.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal prosecution
of medical marijuana users is unconstitutional -- as long as the
marijuana is not sold, transported across state lines or used for
nonmedicinal purposes.

The U.S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments Monday in Raich v.
Ashcroft, must now consider whether federal drug laws can be enforced
in the 11 states from Alaska to Maine that have approved medical
marijuana laws.

But the real issue before the high court isn't the legality or medical
efficacy of smoking marijuana. It's about the constitutionally
enumerated powers of government and the principle of federalism. We
refer the justices to the oft forgotten, ignored or violated Ninth and
10th amendments, which were designed precisely to protect citizens of
the states from this kind of arrogant federal coercion.
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MAP posted-by: Derek