When you go to school at Berkeley, you’re gonna run into a lot of potheads. It’s inevitable. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen stoned idiots, stumbling about, reeking of reefer. Not all marijuana users are brain-dead teenagers and twenty-somethings, though. Many people use the cannabis plant for legitimate medical purposes, like pain relief and inducement of hunger for those who have wasting diseases. 11 states have laws that allow for the use of marijuana for those who suffer terminal or severe illnesses—medical marijuana, they call it. Today, however, federalism prevails as the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 that federal laws prohibiting the use of cannabis supercedes any state laws.
I just don’t get it. Doctors are allowed to write prescriptions for very strong pain relievers and narcotics, such as morphine and oxycontin. Just a few weeks ago I was stumbling around on a legal vicodin trip. So why not marijuana? It’s not like doctors are trying to give this drug to Joe Everyman, or the bum on the street. Some of the people who have been arrested under this law are normal people who suffer severe (and often untreatable) illnesses. For example, one of the defendants in the case—Angel McClary Raich—has an inoperable brain tumor in addition to other problems. She says that marijuana is the only substance that alleves her pain and helps her hold down enough food. What this ruling effectively does is tell her that she must suffer for the rest of her (probably short) life, because marijuana is BAD. It doesn’t matter that she’s a suburban mother of two with an extreme medical case, in the eyes of the law she’s just as guilty as the teenager getting stoned in his parents’ basement. How retarded is that?
What effect will this really have, I wonder. More than 95% of all marijuana arrests are carried out by state authorities—only large scale (and most likely illegal) weed operations attract the attention of the Feds. So if a state that had an exemption for medical marijuana stumbles across an ill person blazing up, will they really bother to arrest them? Also, I am slightly bothered by the fact that the ruling against the state laws allowing medical marijuana were based on the notion of interstate commerce. I mean, the two women in the case both grew their own, or had a caretaker to grow it for them. How is that interstate commerce? If that can come under the umbrella of interstate commerce, what else can?