Marijuana as Medicine Rejected by High Court
By Charles Lane

This article appeared in the International Herald Tribune, 2001-05-15, page 3 (reprinted from the Washington Post). Comments in the article colored thus and enclosed in brackets are by Peter Meyer.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday [2001-05-14 CE] that the federal government can shut down Califomia marijuana cooperatives that distribute the drug to people who say they need it to combat the symptoms of AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis and other diseases. [Marijuana is a plant, not a drug.]

There is no "medical necessity" exception to the federal prohibition on the possession and distribution of marijuana, the court said in an 8-0 opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas [a.k.a. "Uncle Tom"].

The decision is a major setback to the medical marijuana movement. In 1996, California voters approved a referendum which gave rise to medical marijuana cooperatives in that state, and since then voters in eight other states have passed similar measures.

Medical marijuana advocates maintain that a decision against the Oakland, California, marijuana cooperatives would deter other states from taking similar action.

Voters in Arizona, Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington also have approved ballot initiatives allowing the use of medical marijuana. In Hawaii, the legislature passed a similar law and the governor signed it last year.

[Whatever happened to states' rights? According to Article X of the Bill of Rights the states retain all rights not explicitly granted to the federal government. Thus the states have a right to decriminalize the medical use of marijuana if that's what the voters want. The federal government has no right to overturn such legislation by the states.]

The case began in 1998 when the federal government sought an injunction against the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative and five other marijuana distributors. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower-court ruling that had sided with the government. In doing so, the 9th Circuit created the "medical necessity" defense.

However, the court held Monday that federal anti-drug laws trump state provisions and that they "leave no doubt" that medical necessity cannot be a defense to a charge of distribution of marijuana. [Another demonstration of the fascist nature of the U.S. federal government.]

"It is clear from the text of the act that Congress has made a determination that marijuana has no medical benefits worthy of an exception," Justice Thomas wrote. [And how many congress critters are qualified to judge whether marijuana has medical benefits? They are mostly lawyers, not doctors. Medical marijuana is prohibited for political, not medical, reasons.]

Advocates of medical marijuana say the drug can ease side effects from chemotherapy, save nauseated AIDS patients from wasting away or even allow multiple sclerosis sufferers to rise from a wheelchair and walk. [But of course if the use of marijuana is allowed on medical grounds then it is harder to prohibit its use by the general public — and the prohibitionists and drug warriors are desperate to avoid this development, a development which is occurring in many countries in the world, particularly in Europe.]

In a concurring opinion Justice John Paul Stevens, joined by Justices David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, expressed concern that Justice Thomas's opinion may have been too sweeping, since there might be circumstances where an individual patient might need to use a prohibited drug to save his life.

Justice Stevens wrote: "Most notably, whether the defense might be available to a seriously ill patient for whom there is no other means of avoiding starvation or extraordinacy suffering is a difficult issue that is not presented here." [But this issue was presented — these are exactly the benefits of the medical use of marijuana — and Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg went along with Uncle Tom in denying sufferers legal access to a means of relieving their suffering — a disgraceful and shameful decision which demonstrates once again that the U.S. Supreme Court has become a political tool of the ruling junta.]

In more enlightened countries, however, medical use of cannabis could soon be legal.

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