Pubdate: Thu, 22 Mar 2007
Source: Republican, The (Springfield, MA)
Copyright: 2007 The Republican
Cited: Angel Raich
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)
Bookmark: (Angel Raich)


Angel Raich, a California mother of two, has an inoperable brain tumor
and other serious ailments so painful that she needs drugs every two
or three hours.

Her doctor prescribed nearly three dozen drugs before he found a drug
that actually relieves her pain and stimulates her appetite - the only
medicine that is keeping her alive.

It's marijuana.

Is her doctor undermining this nation's war on drugs by prescribing
marijuana to her?

That's a ridiculous question.

A three-judge appeals panel ruled last week, however, that Raich is
not immune from federal prosecution if she uses the drug.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sympathized
with Raich, indicating that if she is arrested and prosecuted for a
drug offense, she might be able to use a "medical necessity defense."
Judge Harry Pregerson wrote in the ruling, "For now, federal law is
blind to the wisdom of a future day when the right to use medical
marijuana to alleviate excruciating pain may be deemed

This ruling should be posted at the entrance to Congress so that the
nation's lawmakers will be shamed into amending the federal Controlled
Substances Act, which bans the use of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug.
According to the 1970 legislation, marijuana is an illegal controlled
substance with no medical value. That's so 1970s.

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 patients.

Gov. Bill Richardson, a candidate for the Democratic presidential
nomination, signed legislation last week making New Mexico the 12th
state to legalize medical marijuana. Yet the Supreme Court ruled in
2005 that the federal government has the authority to prosecute the
use of marijuana for medical use. Congress can change that.

The nation's lawmakers should look in their own medicine cabinets
where they might find prescription drugs far more toxic and dangerous
than marijuana.

And, in the meantime, Angel Raich faces arrest if she takes her
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake