This basically humanitarian medical issue is a linchpin for several vital and contentious issues. State vs. Federal authority, the rights of patients and physicians, the case of victimless "crime" and ultimately, personal freedom. The criminalization of marijuana as a personal recreational choice extends to the prohibition of medical use in the U.S., which cruelly impacts cancer, glaucauma epilepsy, bipolar disorder and other patients for whom it could provide demonstrable efficacious relief. The first known mention of cannabis is in a Chinese medical text of 2737 BC. It was used as medicine throughout Asia and the Middle East to treat a variety of conditions.
The Supreme Court hears a California case Monday that could become a signature decision of the Rehnquist era.
By Warren Richey, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
WASHINGTON - Angel Raich and Diane Monson know plenty about the failings of modern medicine.
Ms. Raich has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and Ms. Monson suffers from what her doctors say is a degenerative spine disease. Both women have tried virtually every form of medication legally available, but the multiple side effects from prescription drugs have only compounded their difficulties.
In searching for an alternative, and upon their physicians' advice, the two California residents started using marijuana. Both say it helps them cope with pain.
But, yes, there is a problem. While medical use of marijuana is authorized under a 1996 California law, federal law bans marijuana as an illegal drug.
Monday Raich and Monson's case arrives at the US Supreme Court where the justices must decide whether California law or federal law should apply.
How the justices decide the case could affect more than just the applicability of medical-marijuana laws in California and a handful of other states with similar provisions. It could redefine the balance of power between Congress and the states and become a signature decision of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
"I think it will be a landmark, one way or the other," says Randy Barnett, a professor at Boston University School of Law, who is arguing the case for Raich and Monson.
...Many analysts say the medical- marijuana case places the high court at a crossroads.
Read the rest of this fine article at the Christian Science Monitor which has a map of U.S. States that have pased laws permitting the medical use of cannabis as part of their excellent political, historical, medical and constitutional analysis.
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