Medicinal marijuana - what is there to debate?

The Supreme Court is currently hearing a case,United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative, to be decided sometime in June, on whether to overrule the illegality of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Honestly, what is there to debate? I can’t think of a reason why we shouldn’t allow marijuana to be used in certain cases.

Let’s run through some possible questions.

  1. How will doctors know which patients need marijuana and which don’t?
    Answer: That’s a matter for the FDA and the companies that (will) produce the marijuana to test and determine. Doctors don’t just hand out Albuterol and Singulair to everyone with a cough that comes in, they diagnose asthma and prescribe the proper medicine.

  2. Couldn’t doctors ignore the rules and give it to everyone that comes in complaining about an eye ache?
    Answer: sure they could. They could also lose their license. We trust doctors every single day with far more harmful drugs than marijuana. So far, so good.

  3. What about patients faking illnesses to get the marijuana?
    Answer: Please refer to question 2. Doctors are somewhat smart, let’s give them some credit.

  4. What’s up with that quote by Ari Fleischer “The president is opposed to the legalization of marijuana, including for medicinal purposes,”?
    Answer: This isn’t a political thread. But considering this is the guy that won’t comment on his own cocaine use…yeah, I kinda find it funny. Of course, no more so than Clinton’s advisor saying the same thing. Cripes, what’s that about? If either Bush or Clinton die, you’d better stand back at the cremation lest you get high off the fumes.

  5. Is this a slippery slope?
    Answer: no. It is what it is. It’s helping people who are sick. But if, for whatever reason, marijuana became legalized as a whole, that wouldn’t be a catastrophe. Compare death/illness rates with its two legal competitors, alcohol and tobacco, and I don’t think we have any worry here.
    Sorry this is long, but it’s really just so absurd. Where’s the debate? Someone present an argument here!


I can.

According to US law, marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug. Which means its use for any reason is prohibited.

Sorry is that sounds faceitous, but IMO legalizing medical use of pot will not happen until it’s reclassified.

Andros is absolutely correct. We can debate the policy of permitting medical marijuana all day long–and I’m highly sympathetic on policy grounds. But I cannot imagine any legal scenario in which the Supreme Court decides that the federal government does not have the authority to regulate drugs nationwide. That principle is far too well established for serious questioning.

Besides, this is a Court that almost never accepts review of a case if there isn’t a split among the various circuit courts. There is no such split here, and the 9th Circuit here is the only federal circuit to have ever ruled on the “medical necessity” defense at issue. That indicates to me they’re more than ready to shoot down the cannabis club folks. My money says it’s a unanimous vote, too.

It sucks, but I think Minty and Andros have got it. The court isn’t really concerned with the ideological questions raised in the case. As far as they are (probably) concerned, pot is illegal in all forms until it is legal.

In Dubya’s defense (oh my GOD, what the hell am I DOING?!?) when I read the quote from Ari Fleischer it was preceeded by an expression of the president’s belief that each state should decide for itself. So basically, I think his opinion is “I am personally against Marijuana use, even for medical purposes, but I will not try to prevent the states from deciding for themselves.” Admittedly, this is still hypocritical, since the guy probably only recently started getting back sensation in his front teeth (snort snort), but as president, he does have to cover his ass.

The OP’s point about how we trust Dr’s every day with far more dangerous drugs is an excellent one. Not only more dangerous, but don’t make you feel half as goooood.

How about a legal scenario where they actually READ the Constitution?
That should pretty much settle it.

It’s either in there, or it’s a State’s Rights issue.

And speaking as a family physician who believes that there are circumstances when medical marijuhuana use is desirable, let me add that I really don’t want the headache of prescribing it. I’ve got enough problems recognizing the opiate and benzodiazepine drug seekers among those legitimately needful of these drugs. Give the responsibility to the oncologists or critical care specialists or somebody, but not me!

And don’t tell me you need it for your glaucoma! They have perfectly nice drops and laser surgery to take care of that, and to actually effectively lower eye pressure with grass, you’ve got to smoke a giant doobie every 90 minutes, 24 hours a day! You’ll get fat from the munchies, paranoid from the excess THC, and you won’t be able to see anyway, 'cuz your eyes will be so red!


Well, if we are going to bet on it…I’ll grant you that the Supreme Court will probably rule against medicinal use of marijuana, but I don’t think it will be unanimous. I say something like 6-2 or 5-3 (apparently Breyer won’t be voting because his brother was one of the judges in the previous rulings).

by meta-reasoning that marijuana is a natural hallucinogen, and they can’t predict or control your behavior with it and profit from it at the same time. If marijuana was addictive most of the time, it would be legal (like cigarettes). If it was produced in a factory, it would be legal (like alcohol). If it was addictive and produced in a factory, it would legal to prescribe (like everything else). Because anyone can grow it, it will remain illegal, although they will struggle for a way to accomodate some people without contradicting themselves. Heroin is only illegal because it is imported. If it was native to America, we would be all be smoking heroin cigarettes. I sometimes wish it made less sense, I really do.

Marijuana COULD be produced in a factory. And alcohol is produced in homes all over the country.

Re: “Heroin is only illegal because it is imported.” Huh?

Surely it will depend on what is classed as marijuana. There is current research going on in Britain aimed at isolating the active ingredients in the many chemicals in cannabis sativa which have positive affects on illness, and excluding the ‘side-effects’ - the high that THC can cause. Will this drug be ‘marijuana’?

Surely it is similar to the opiates. In street form they are illegal and laced with many other chemicals. In pure form as used for medical purposes (and widely used in Britain), they are legal under prescription. And medical usage under appropriate control does not lead to any more dependency or negative side effects than any other medicine. However, if someone was to grow opium poppies and harvest the drug themselves, this would remain illegal.

What is the difference between the two cases?

The weird thing is that THC is available now in a legal form, Marinol - it’s just taken orally. You can eat a pill with THC in it but not smoke a plant with THC in it - even though in cases where THC is being used to fight nausea smoking it would be far better.

Brian seems to be implying that, were heroin (or, more relevantly, opium) produced here instead of abroad, business interests would have seen to it that, back in the days of the Harrison Narcotics Act, opiates remained legal (one more thing to sell, I suppose).

He’s wrong, of course. Lots of things that are/were produced here (even maybe in factories) have been banned. Brian assumes in his post that the effects of drug criminalization were there causes. If I may: if marijuana were legal, it would be produced in factories. It is not produced in factories becuase it is illegal. Recreational opiates (synthetic or otherwise) would be produced here in much greater quantities were they legal. They are illegal, making it hard to produce them here.

I agree that the best way to go about it is to change its status as a schedule I drug through the FDA. I also agree that overturning the 1970 document that shows marijuana to have no medical benefits is just a tad short sighted and needs to be revised. Those are where the fight really should be waged.

But it’s in the courts right now. I have to ask, if the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative has no legal leg to stand on, how in the world did they get to the Supreme Court? Lower courts would have thrown the case out. The Supreme Court gets to hand pick their cases. It’s made it this far. How? If they’re powerless to even change anything, why are they listening to it in the first place?

And any drug can be made by anybody. I’ve made aspirin before. The quality sucked and I sure wouldn’t want to injest it, but I’ve made it before. You can do the same with marijuana. Well regulated, price controlled with medical insurance backing it, I wouldn’t doubt if it’s cheaper through Dow than it is through the shady guy in the apartment down the hall.

  1. The district court (Justice Breyer’s brother, btw) did shut down the club. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed.

  2. The 9th Circuit gets slapped down by the Supreme Court more than any other circuit, since its judges are disproportionately liberal. They drew attention to themselves by ruling the way they did on a topic of obvious concern to the drug warriors, and now it looks to me like they’re going down in flames yet again.

  3. Yes, the Supreme Court has the power to change things. See Marbury v. Madison. That doesn’t mean they’re going to. The Court is undoubtedly listening to it because the 9th Circuit’s decision was wrong–badly wrong–on the policy.

Come on, does anybody seriously think Rehnquist, O’Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas are going to vote in favor of marijuana? And if so, just how much of it have you been smoking this morning?

Oh, and Freedom, re: your “read the Constitution” argument? Wow, that’s a winner! I think there’s still time for you to submit an amicus brief, so get cracking on telling the Court that they’re a bunch of schmucks who just don’t read the Constitution. How can they deny the force of that argument? :rolleyes:

Aarrrghhh! #3 should say that the 9th Circuit was badly wrong on the law, not the policy. Sorry for the confusion.

Marijuana could be made in factories? No reason to do that, not sure how this relates, but it is not made in factories because it is illegal (that is post hoc). As for homebrew, this is illegal in most states, but not federally, which allows 200 gallons a year to be produced (why a federal law?). It is unenforced, except in Georgia. Also, a chemical being banned for reasons of poisoning does not refute this argument, neither does synthetic opiates–then what is codeine? None other than a powerful and addictive opiate. Keep in mind that heroin is also illegal because it is a natural cheap imported competition to America’s synthetic opiums.

Also, consider LSD. One cannot predict or control behavior with it, so the military concluded. Psychologists desire to use it to cure childhood trauma and addictions. BANNED! It is non-addictive. How dare someone try to cure addictions, what the hell good is that drug to a consumer-based economy? Note: LSD was also banned for religious reasons, which is an addiction too.

As long as marijuana is illegal to grow for personal reasons, unrelated to sale to minors, there will never be a logical reason to explain its prohibition other than pharmaceutical and addictive-competitive hegemonic ones that have much more value added in the process (factory production=more money).

Notice that I did not make a case for hemp against the timber industry, I already covered that in GQ three days ago.

Whoa, deep thoughts, highly attenuated reasoning, mellow outrage, inability to consider external evidence . . . Brian, dude, are you gonna bogart that thing all day? 'Cause I think the rest of us could really use some to help make sense of that post.

Cecil said as much in a column about environmentalists and hemp, which I alluded to above, posted in GQ by Manhatten in response to me. In it, Cecil satirically claimed that hemp activists were really pot-heads in disguise and therefore assumed he was right by assuming they were disingenuous, nevermind the foremost paper-making issue related to deforestation and the fact that hemp can’t be smoked for effect. Assuming your opponent is selfishly ill-intentioned without knowing it must be a wonderful high.

Brian, two things:

  1. Marijuana, while psychoactive, is not a hallucinogen. To the best of my knowledge, the “unpredictability” of users has never been seriously cited as a reason for its illegality.

  2. While I have long supported the legalization of marijuana, and staunchly oppose the inertia that keeps it illegal, there is no conspiracy out to get you.

I would never assume anyone is out to get me physically, and mentally it would be impossible since conservatives fear information they cannot control, not people like myself. Over 600,000 thousand people were cited or arrested for pot last year (according to Salon magazine, in a recent article about GW Bush’s “pot-smoking” daughter) at an estimated enforcement cost of between 20 and 50 billion dollars. This enforcement is mandated by two-faced conservative politicians who routinely claim personal responsibility and freedom when it comes to taxes, pollution, and child spankings. That’s a generous subsidy for the timber industry, not to mention the bad will cultivated towards government–which is exactly what right-wingers want to spread. Speaking of conspiracy, there is an environmental disinformation campaign afloat, and where it involves hemp it is claimed to be a drug conspiracy. So, in other words, tell it to the paranoid conservatives.

THC is most often classified as a hallucinogen, especially if you try to order it pure from chemists for research.