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Reality On Marijuana

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The Supreme Court has taken a belated but welcome step back from Reefer
Madness. The decision should bring relief from unnecessary suffering to
some Americans. It also should make the federal government butt out.

The Bush administration had asked the justices to decide whether Washington
could take action against doctors who prescribe marijuana to patients with
such serious illnesses as cancer or those who have the AIDS virus. Nine
states allow physicians to prescribe the drug, usually for the relief of
pain. Dating back to the Clinton administration, however, the feds have
tried to block implementation of such voter-approved laws.

Nor has the high court been especially consistent. Two years ago, the
justices ruled 8-0 that because marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug under the
federal Controlled Substances Act, it has no accepted medical benefit. It
was a technical ruling, one that kept alive the possibility of doctors
prescribing marijuana, but federal regulators used it to move against
collectives that were distributing the drug.

Similarly, Tuesday's case did not address the merits of marijuana as a
prescription drug. The Bush administration argued that the government could
prevent doctors even from suggesting to a patient that marijuana could be
beneficial. Opponents correctly argued that on matters of public health,
patients should be able to get as much information as possible.

These state laws do not condone abuse of marijuana. Nor do they encourage
narco-trafficking. They recognize a potential benefit in limited instances.
By making marijuana a Schedule 2 drug, like morphine, the government could
look compassionate and sensible on the issue. At last.

Pubdate: Wed, 15 Oct 2003
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2003 The Palm Beach Post
Contact: letters@pbpost.com
Website: http://www.gopbi.com/partners/pbpost/