Pubdate: Mon, 29 Nov 2004
Source: Republican, The (Springfield, MA)
Copyright: 2004 The Republican
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


The Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a case that will
determine whether patients in 11 states may use marijuana for medical
purposes, in violation of a federal ban on marijuana.

Opponents say it contributes to crime, sets a bad example for young
Americans, leads to the use of other drugs and results in drug
addiction. For a nation that has been waging an unsuccessful war
against drugs for decades, it is not easy to admit that something good
might come of marijuana  use. Opponents also fear such laws will lead
to the decriminalization and eventual legalization of marijuana.
That's another debate for another time. Under the supervision of a
physician, with adequate controls to prevent its abuse or improper
use, marijuana is a proven, effective treatment for some seriously ill

Studies by the Institute of Medicine, the American Medical
Association, New England Journal of Medicine, the AIDS Action Council,
the American Academy of Family Physicians and numerous other
organizations conclude that the use of marijuana can relieve pain and
nausea associated with illnesses such as cancer,  multiple sclerosis
and AIDS. And, the studies conclude, that marijuana is less  toxic
than many common drugs that physicians routinely prescribe to treat
patients. Angel Raich, a plaintiff in the case to be heard today, has
tumors in her brain and uterus, seizures, spasms and nausea. Her
doctor prescribed nearly three dozens drugs before he found one that
works - marijuana. Is her doctor undermining the war on drugs by
prescribing marijuana to relieve her pain and discomfort? Absolutely
not. It is difficult to imagine federal agents raiding her house to
seize the one treatment that eases her pain and allows her to get out
of her wheelchair.

We have argued in the past that Congress should amend the federal
Control Substances Act to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to a
Schedule II drug, an action that would allow for the medical use of
marijuana. The Supreme Court can  nudge Congress in that direction by
ruling that states have the right to adopt  laws allowing the use of
drugs that the federal government has  banned.
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