Congress Should Amend Drug Laws

Congress Should Amend Drug Laws
Posted by CN Staff on June 15, 2005 at 23:04:01 PT
Examiner Editorial
Source: Washington Examiner
Washington, D.C. -- Last Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows federal prosecutors to go after sick people who smoke marijuana for pain relief is just the latest in an outrageous pattern of criminalizing medicine that has dire, long-term consequences for every American.As an Examiner editorial noted last month, prosecutors are already targeting pain doctors who prescribe higher doses of legal medications than federal bureaucrats think is wise, even if the doses fall within the parameters of modern medical care.
With government agents looking over their shoulders, several top pain physicians told us, many doctors are increasingly reluctant to prescribe enough medication to patients suffering from chronic, intractable pain. Indeed, half of those surveyed in a recent ABC News/USA Today/Stanford University Medical Center poll said that current doses of prescription drugs do not alleviate their pain.According to Johns Hopkins neurosurgery professor James Campbell, physicians "simply don't know where the line is between a legal dose and a prescription that will land them in jail." Some desperate patients have turned to marijuana and other out-of-the-mainstream remedies for relief. They deserve compassion, not incarceration.Even with the proverbial note from their doctor, patients who live in one of the 10 states that protect medical marijuana users from arrest (Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington) are now threatened with criminal charges if they're caught with pot in their possession. Maryland's Darrell Putman Compassionate Use Act of 2003 limits the fine to $100, but doesn't protect sick people from being arrested or convicted for lighting up a joint.The failed Prohibition of the 1920s started with the best of intentions: to protect people from heavy drinking that could ruin their lives. Unfortunately, enforcement of Prohibition laws ruined many lives - and didn't stop people from drinking. Our failed drug prohibition is essentially doing the same thing, with equally dismal results.Although large majorities in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia support the limited use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, past efforts to legalize pot under such limited conditions have failed. Anti-drug groups applaud the latest ruling, pointing out that marijuana is a dangerous drug with serious side-effects. True, but the same can also be said about cancer, AIDS, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis or any other painful disease whose sufferers sometimes turn to pot as their last resort. They should have the right to make that decision themselves.Studies show higher increases in overall marijuana use in states that have passed medical marijuana initiatives. The solution is to go after the estimated 15 million people who smoke marijuana for recreation, not the sick people these laws were intended to help.Possession of marijuana remains illegal in all 50 states, and thanks to the latest Supreme Court ruling, future efforts to allow it to be used as a medicine will no doubt be found unconstitutional. Only conservative Justices William Rehnquist and Clarence Thomas, joined by moderate Sandra Day O'Connor, were willing to put the comfort and welfare of sick people ahead of any other considerations.Angel McClary Raich, one of the plaintiffs in the case, lives in California - the first state to pass a medical marijuana law in 1996. She suffers from chronic wasting syndrome, scoliosis and an inoperable brain tumor. Such maladies are hard, if not impossible, to fake. As if this array of debilitating illnesses were not enough to endure, Raich now has to fear agents of her own government in the wings, waiting to pounce.Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the misguided majority, noted that Congress could amend federal law to allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes only. That would be the decent and humanitarian thing to do.Source: Washington Examiner (DC)Author: Thursday, June 16, 2005Copyright: 2005 Washington ExaminerContact: threads dcexaminer.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Court: Let Congress Legalize It Marijuana Information Links Should OK Medical Marijuana States, Doctors Decide
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Comment #3 posted by runderwo on June 16, 2005 at 11:05:24 PT
"The solution is to go after the estimated 15 million people who smoke marijuana for recreation"Yeah. That'll work.
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Comment #2 posted by Agog on June 16, 2005 at 08:48:51 PT
Federal Drug Free Workplace laws/regs
I'm intimately familiar with these regs and every contract I see has them embedded. The actual language of the clause talks to introducing "illicit" drugs to the workplace... thankfully, the rulings have indicated that once you have consumed it and it is within you it is no longer classified as the drug per se. So even though I consume it I'm not in violation because I haven't introduced said evil substance to the workplace. I expect to see challenges on this and through the ADA in the future.All the Best
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Comment #1 posted by charmed quark on June 16, 2005 at 06:50:41 PT
A major reason federal acceptance is needed
Even though federal arrest of users is probably around 1%, there is another important reason medical cannabis users need acceptance at the Federal level. Drug Free workplace rules, imposed on any employer who receives any Federal funds, do not make any allowances for medical cannabis use. (This is not true for employers who do not accept federal money but do drug testing - a 9th circuit court ruling allows people to sue under the American with Disabilities Act if they are punished by drug testing while legally using medical cannabis). Additionally, anybody with a government clearance is not allowed to use medical cannabis, regardless of state laws. A huge percent of Americans work for companies under the Federal rules or have clearances, not to mention the large number of people who work directly for the Federal government.The amendment voted down yesterday would have been a good first step in this direction, as well as a good first step in restoring the balance of states' rights.-CQ
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