Legal Battle Over Marijuana Continues

Over Half of Americans Think Marijuana Should Be Made Legal for Medicinal Purposes

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, medical marijuana is one of the most widely supported issues in drug policy reform. Published research suggests that marijuana has medical value in treating patients with serious illnesses such as glaucoma, cancer, AIDS, and chronic pain.

The issue of whether states can allow its residents to use marijuana for medical reasons, is currently being debated in the Supreme Court is the case of Ashcroft v. Raich.

Angel Raich, suffers from seizures, nausea, and spasms. She also has tumors in her brain and uterus. She was prescribed marijuana by her doctor after he prescribed 35 drugs that did not work. Diane Monson had joined Raich in her lawsuit. Monson’s house was raided in August 2002 to destroy the marijuana that she was using for her chronic back problems. The women tried to receive an injunction that would prevent future raids on their homes, it was denied by a federal judge, and then the decision was reversed by the appeals court.

The Bush administration’s top lawyer, Paul Clement said that California allows individuals that suffer from chronic physical and mental health issues to smoke marijuana, and as a result, many people are subjecting themselves to health dangers.

Clement told AP reporters, “Smoked marijuana really doesn’t have any future in medicine.”

Surveys indicate that the public is in favor of ending the prohibition of medical marijuana. According to a 1999 Gallup poll, 73 percent of Americans are in favor of “making marijuana legally available for doctors to prescribe in order to reduce pain and suffering.” Since 1996 eight states and the District of Columbia have passed favorable medical marijuana ballot initiatives.

Justice Stephen Breyer said supporters of marijuana for the ill should move to the federal drug regulators before coming to the Supreme Court, and several justices referred to America’s drug addiction problems.

Raich and Monson’s attorney told justices that his clients are law-abiding citizens who must have marijuana to survive. He added that the drug may have side effects, but seriously sick people are willing to take a chance.

Besides California, nine other states allow individuals to use marijuana if their physician agrees: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Arizona has a law that permits marijuana prescriptions, but no active program is yet in place.

Alabama, Louisiana, and, Mississippi do not have medical marijuana laws, but sided with marijuana users that the government is intruding into the affairs of states.

Many Republican members of Congress urged the courts to consider more than the 20,000 people that die each year because of drug abuse. They believe that a ruling against the government would help drug traffickers to avoid arrest, increase marijuana supply and send a message that illegal drugs are good.