Pubdate: Thu, 02 Dec 2004
Source: Trail Blazer, The (KY)
Copyright: 2004 The Trail Blazer
Author: Michael Adkins, Campus Life Editor
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Angel Raich)


On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court started hearing testimony on whether
or not sick people in 11 states can grow and use marijuana for pain
relief, despite federal bans on the drug and its distribution.
Conservative justices on the court are concerned that, should the
court uphold lower court rulings in favor of medical marijuana use,
drug abusers will take advantage of the looser restrictions and claim
medical privileges when questioned by authorities.

Currently, users of marijuana for medical purposes in 10 of the 11
states in question - Arizona has a law in place permitting medical
marijuana use but no active program - obtain permission from their
physicians to grow and use marijuana at their homes. Physicians in
these states issue certificates to users to prove their cannabis is
for medical purposes, but Justice Stephen Breyer said he fears a surge
in black market circulation of these certificates if the court should
rule in favor of medical marijuana use.

If the Supreme Court's justices are concerned with an appearance of
laxness in drug law enforcement and difficulty in preventing illegal
drug dealing, a useful compromise for all parties concerned would be
to place medical marijuana under Food and Drug Administration
regulations. This would help to ensure marijuana is placed only in the
hands of the truly ill people who need it, not recreational users and
dealers trying to take advantage of a non-standardized system.

Under this system, if the FDA ruled it necessary, medical marijuana
users could be subject to periodic inspection of their growing
facilities and routine cannabis use to make certain these users were
keeping their marijuana off the streets. Perhaps these users could
even be required to pick up their supplies of marijuana from area
pharmacies, so that a professional is placed in charge of what seems
to be such a dangerous substance.

When someone like Angel Raich, an Oakland, Calif., mother of two who
uses marijuana to help combat severe pain from an inoperable brain
tumor and one of the filers of this lawsuit, has to fight the federal
government for her right to ease her pain, there is something wrong.

The government should ensure that, in what has so far been a feeble
attempt to keep drugs out of the hands of children and off the
streets, it does not take away a viable avenue of pain therapy from
people who benefit greatly from it.
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