Medical Marijuana and The Supreme Court

Medical Marijuana and The Supreme Court
Posted by CN Staff on August 17, 2005 at 14:54:29 PT
By Susan Okie, M.D. 
Source: New England Journal of Medicine
Massachusetts -- Angel McClary Raich, a California woman at the center of the recent Supreme Court case on medical marijuana, hasn't changed her treatment regimen since the Court ruled in June that patients who take the drug in states where its medicinal use is legal are not shielded from federal prosecution. A thin woman with long, dark hair and an intense gaze, Raich takes marijuana, or cannabis as she prefers to call it, about every two waking hours — by smoking it, by inhaling it as a vapor, by eating it in foods, or by applying it topically as a balm. She says that it relieves her chronic pain and boosts her appetite, preventing her from becoming emaciated because of a mysterious wasting syndrome. Raich and her doctor maintain that without access to the eight or nine pounds of privately grown cannabis that she consumes each year, she would die.
Vaporizer System for the Administration of MarijuanaThe cannabis is placed in the chamber and heated to a temperature below that required for combustion. The balloon fills with vapor that contains the active ingredients without the tar or particulates thought to be responsible for most of the drug's adverse effects on the respiratory tract. The patient inhales the vapor from the balloon. Photo courtesy of Storz and Bickel. Raich has embraced a public role advocating the medicinal use of marijuana, she says that her health suffered during the hectic days following the announcement of the Court's decision, when a whirlwind schedule of press conferences and congressional meetings in Washington prevented her from medicating herself with cannabis as regularly as she needed to. "My body was shutting down on me," she said in an interview from her Oakland home last month. "I'm scared of my health failing. I'm scared of the federal government coming in and doing more harm. [Recently,] the city of Oakland warned there were going to be some raids" on marijuana dispensaries. "We're all just waiting. Sitting on the frontline is extremely stressful." In the Supreme Court case Gonzales v. Raich, the justices ruled 6 to 3 that the federal government has the power to arrest and prosecute patients and their suppliers even if the marijuana use is permitted under state law, because of its authority under the federal Controlled Substances Act to regulate interstate commerce in illegal drugs. In practical terms, it is not yet clear what effect the Court's decision will have on patients. An estimated 115,000 people have obtained recommendations for marijuana from doctors in the 10 states that have legalized the cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Besides California, those states are Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. (Three weeks after the decision was announced, Rhode Island's legislature passed a similar law and soon afterward overrode a veto by the state's governor.) Immediately after the news of the high court's ruling, attorneys general in the states that have approved the use of medical marijuana emphasized that the practice remained legal under their state laws, and a telephone survey of a random national sample of registered voters, commissioned by the Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project, indicated that 68 percent of respondents opposed federal prosecution of patients who use marijuana for medical reasons. Nationally, most marijuana arrests are made by state and local law-enforcement agencies, with federal arrests accounting for only about 1 percent of cases. However, soon after the decision was announced, federal agents raided 3 of San Francisco's more than 40 medical marijuana dispensaries. Nineteen people were charged with running an international drug ring; they allegedly were using the dispensaries as a front for trafficking in marijuana and in the illegal amphetamine "ecstasy." Complete Article: New England Journal of Medicine (MA)Author: Susan Okie, M.D. Published: Vol. 353:648-651 August 18, 2005 No. 7 Copyright: 2005 Massachusetts Medical SocietyContact: letters nejm.orgWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on August 19, 2005 at 22:13:23 PT
News Article from eMaxHealth
Latest Research Shows Marijuana Use May Be a Gateway to Relapse   
Alcohol Treatment and Dependence August 19, 2005Results of a study released in this month's American Journal of Psychiatry suggest that using cannabis or marijuana after treatment for cocaine or alcohol dependence is a significant predictor of relapse to previous drug/alcohol use. The study, which was carried out by researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University Medical Center, is believed to be the first such study to address the effects of cannabis use on post-discharge outcome of inpatients treated for alcohol, cocaine, and/or heroin.While marijuana has long been considered a gateway drug, its use implicated in the subsequent graduation to the abuse of more addictive drugs like cocaine, this study now suggests marijuana may be a gateway drug to relapse.Dr. Efrat Aharonovich, the lead investigator, and colleagues interviewed 250 adults who had received treatment for substance abuse in an inpatient setting. At the beginning of the study, 75% of the participants met the criteria for alcohol dependence, 58% met the criteria for cocaine dependence and 20% met the criteria for heroin dependence. Fifteen percent of the participants were marijuana dependent. (Dependency suggests an obsessive preoccupation in addition to chemical activity in the brain.)Follow up interviews were conducted at six, 12 and 18 months following the initial meeting. The authors were particularly interested in determining (1) participants' use of substances after discharge, (2) the number of participants who remained in remission (determined to be at least 26 weeks without substance use) and (3) the number of participants who relapsed, that is used marijuana one or more weeks after remission."We found that not only was marijuana use in those who relapsed five times greater than those who did not, but low remission rates in participants were associated with high rates of marijuana use," said Dr. Aharonovich, a psychologist and research scientist. The findings related to heroin were far less significant, with marijuana showing no effect on relapse to the drug. "I believe our study indicates that marijuana use is not quite as harmless as one would like to think," Dr. Aharanovich added.While the authors concur that more studies need to be done, these findings are important in their potential implementation in the care of recovering substance abusers. In addition, Dr. Aharonovich and her colleagues point to the increased potency of marijuana and its increased abuse and dependence as even greater incentive for mental health providers to consider its role in treatment outcome.Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, medical education, and health care. The medical center trains future leaders in health care and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, nurses, dentists, and other health professionals at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the School of Dental and Oral Surgery, the School of Nursing, the Mailman School of Public Health, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. With a strong history of some of the most important advances and discoveries in health care, its researchers are leading the development of novel therapies and advances to address a wide range of health conditions. www.cumc.columbia.eduFounded in 1896, the New York State Psychiatric Institute (PI) continues to contribute importantly to knowledge about understanding and treating psychiatric disorder and is ranked among the best psychiatric research facilities in the world today. Noted for its research on depression and suicide, schizophrenia, anxiety and child psychiatric disorders, PI is also at the forefront of research dedicated to unraveling the brain's mysteries. Its scientists constitute the core of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University. In 2000, Dr. Eric Kandel was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research in his labs at PI on the cellular basis of memory. - New York, NY - August 5, 2005Copyright: 2004-2005
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Comment #7 posted by ekim on August 18, 2005 at 18:04:46 PT
Sep 3 05 Hawaii Tour 12:00 AM Jack Cole Honolulu 
September 2005 
Sep 3 05 Hawaii Tour 12:00 AM Jack Cole Honolulu Hawaii USA 
 It's a tough job, but someone has to do it, as Executive Director Jack Cole begins his tour of Hawaii to spread the message of America's failed drug policies. Mr. Cole will speak to civic clubs, the media, college students, retired military personnel and a variety of other organizations about medical marijuana, mandatory minimum sentencing and grass roots efforts across the country to change America's racially biased drug laws. 
Sep 6 05 KTUH 90.3 FM 06:00 PM Jack Cole Honolulu Hawaii USA 
 The radio station is KTUH, the show is The Rokery, the host is Terri Hurst, and it's at 90.3 FM, Honolulu, Hawaii. Terri will be interviewing Executive Director Jack Cole about his current trip to Hawaii to spread the word about America's failed drug policies and a host of related issues. KTUH is the University of Hawaii's radio station and Hawaii's only 24 hour, non-profit, non-commercial educational radio station that has been serving the Honolulu community since 1969. Visit the KTUH web site at 
Sep 6 05 University of Hawaii Sociology and Political Science Departments 03:00 PM Jack Cole Manoa Hawaii USA 
 Executive Director Jack Cole will host a multi-department presentation for the Sociology and Political Science Departments of the University of Hawaii. Mr. Cole, a founding member of LEAP and one of the nation's most respected experts on America's failed drug policies, will be discussing a myriad of issues related to the failure of drug prohibition. Some of the topics are sure to be the breakup of American families caused by the current sentencing guidelines, why women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population, how the war on drugs continues the cycle of violence and destruction and what individual citizens can do to bring about change. Location: University of Hawaii, Room A101. 
Sep 7 05 Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii Annual Dinner Meeting 05:30 PM Jack Cole Honolulu Hawaii USA 
 Executive Director Jack Cole is the keynote speaker at this year's Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii Annual Dinner Meeting. Mr Cole, a nationally known and respected expert on America's drug policies, will be discussing a multitude of drug prohibition issues such as mandatory minimum sentencing, medical and recreational use of marijuana, the relationship of drug prohibition to crime and LEAP's mission to end America's failed war on drugs. Visit for more information.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on August 18, 2005 at 13:43:23 PT
Medical Marijuana Clinic To Open Soon in Honolulu 
Thursday, August 18th, 2005 
HONOLULU (AP) _ Oahu's first medical marijuana clinic is scheduled to open in Honolulu in about three weeks. The Hemp and Cannabis Founditon based in Portland, Oregon, will operate the clinic which will open September 7th in a building on Kapiolani Boulevard near Ala Moana Center. Foundation executive director Paul Stanford says the decision to open a clinic in Honolulu was prompted by the belief that Hawaii's medical marijuana program is underused. Only about 300 of the 27-hundred patients certified to use marijuana for medical purposes live on Oahu. More than half are on the Big Island. Stanford says the foundation's goal is to help certify two-thousand patients in the first year and four-thousand to five-thousand in the second year. Sanford says about 50 appointments are lined up for the Honolulu clinic's opening days. Copyright 2005 by the Associated Press
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on August 18, 2005 at 06:36:23 PT
Hello Everyone
I've been looking for news but so far nothing to post. This is the time of year that school is getting ready to start and not much is happening with news. We are busy trying to wrap up the construction work for this year  and getting ready for fall. I hope the news picks up in September but for now trying to enjoy the last days of summer is a good thing. With all the news happening in Canada it has slowed up news even here in the states I guess. Now it's a time to hang on and wait until we can get back on track. Have a good day. 
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on August 18, 2005 at 06:00:16 PT:
What Charmed Quark said
The importance of this cannot be over-emphasized. The Feds have always conveniently forgotten the vaporization issue; with their mentioning of it, the NEJM has in essence written it down on a Stickie and slapped it on Fed foreheads.The Feds will continue to dodge the matter, but it will be increasingly more difficult now that the vaporization cat is out of the bag.
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Comment #3 posted by Toker00 on August 18, 2005 at 04:02:41 PT
Cannabis doesn't kill people,
The DEA kills people! DEA does not spell GOD! The drug war destroys people, not drugs! Got LIES? Got TRUTH? I was wonderin...Cannabis Prohibition. Is it competition out of the way for the corporations? The War on Drugs is an American Holocaust! Cannabis prohibition has starved millions worldwide! Pharmaceutical companies kill for profit. Legal drugs are dangerous! Nulify all cannabis laws. Prohibition is based on LIES, RACISM, AND FASCISM! Cannabis can be used safely by vaporization or oral administration.The FBN and the DEA have lied about Cannabis for 68 years to keep it off the free market! From Anslinger to Walters, nothing but lies! The 15 top contributors to the War on Cannabis are Drug companies! Smell anything? Cannabis is not dangerous but Cannabis Prohibition is! That is why it MUST be rescheduled and the truth about why it was banned, told.Wage peace on war! END CANNABIS PROHIBITION NOW! 
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on August 17, 2005 at 17:54:15 PT
Action Alert: Campaign to Reschedule Marijuana
ASA: Action Alert: Campaign to Reschedule Marijuana   
It is time to step up the HHS Heat Campaign and demand marijuana rescheduling now!We need your help to pressure the Department of Health and Human Services to respond to the formal rescheduling petition submitted by the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis in 2002 and the Data Quality Act petition submitted by ASA in 2004.Right now, there are three ways you can get involved and make your voice heard:1) Sign the Petition for Rescheduling Marijuana!
2) Gather Signatures for the Petition for Rescheduling Marijuana!
3) Join ASA in DC on October 2-4 to Demand Rescheduling NOW!Please read on for further details....--------------------------------------------------------------------------------1) Sign the Petition for Rescheduling Marijuana!During this action, ASA will submit tens of thousands of signatures on petitions calling for the Department of Health and Human Services to reschedule marijuana. Please visit our site today to sign this petition: Gather Signatures for the Petition for Rescheduling Marijuana!We are asking patients and advocates to circulate these petitions in your community. It's easy - bring them to work, get your friends to sign on, or set up a table at a local event to collect signatures. Click here to download a PDF version of the petition: here to download a Word version of the petition: collect these and send them to the ASA office no later than September 24th:Americans for Safe Access
1322 Webster Street Ste. 208
Oakland, CA 94612--------------------------------------------------------------------------------3) Join ASA in DC on October 2-4 to Demand Rescheduling NOW!RALLY FOR RESCHEDULING: 
 Click here to download a PDF or Word version of this flier. IS UP: WE NEED OUR MEDICINE NOW!WHAT: RALLY FOR RESCHEDULING: MARIJUANA IS MEDICINE & ACTIVIST CAMPAIGN TRAININGWHERE: HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (HHS), WASHINGTON DCWHEN: TRAINING: MONDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2005 – 10:30AM-6:30PM        RALLY: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2005 – 10 AMWHO: PATIENTS, DOCTORS, ADVOCATES & YOU! WHAT IS IT? In 2002, Americans for Safe Access as part of a larger coalition submitted a formal petition demanding the rescheduling of marijuana. Last year, to turn up the heat, ASA activists gathered at the Health and Human Services building in DC to echo the demands of the rescheduling petition. ASA simultaneously launched a Data Quality Act petition requesting HHS make corrections to published administrative statements regarding the accepted medical value of marijuana. But HHS continues to drag its feet. It's time to turn up the heat: Another year is too long for patients to wait! Join ASA as we return to DC for the “Rally to Reschedule” to demand HHS respond to the DQA petition and acknowledge marijuana accepted medical value. WHY HHS? To ensure safe and legal access for ALL patients, marijuana must be rescheduled. In order for rescheduling to occur the federal government must acknowledge marijuana’s accepted medical value. In 2001 HHS ruled that marijuana had, “No currently accepted medical use in treatment.” They did not, however, address the mountain of data recognizing cannabis as a useful treatment, by itself or as an adjunct to other therapies, for a variety of chronic conditions. Some of these conditions include cancer, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, glaucoma, anorexia and recurrent migraines but this is not an exhaustive list. Refusing to acknowledge marijuana’s accepted medical value gives DEA the leverage they need to reject rescheduling. Worse yet, it gives DEA implicit permission to continue raiding medical marijuana patients and cooperatives. WHAT SHOULD I DO?1. COME TO WASHINGTON DC: E-mail Rebecca at rebecca or call (510) 251-1856 and give us your name, address, your phone number, and your e-mail address if you would like to join us. 2. GET YOUR MATERIALS: Download the Community Fundraising materials and action flyers from START FUNDRAISING: You will be representing all the medical marijuana patients and supporters from your community who will not be present. Ask your community for help sending you to DC! Personalize and send out the fundraising letter to everyone in your address book. Throw a house party and ask for donations to support your travel costs.SCHEDULE:Sunday, Oct. 2, 7:00pm: ASA ReceptionMonday, Oct. 3, 10:30am-6:30pm: Trainings covering lobbying, media, political art 
                                 & overview of ASA’s Rescheduling CampaignTuesday, Oct. 4, 10:00am: Rescheduling Rally at HHS 
WHO ARE WE? Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national grassroots coalition working to protect the rights of patients and doctors to legally use marijuana for medical purposes. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal access to marijuana for all who are helped by it. We provide legal training for lawyers and patients, medical information for doctors and patients, media support for court cases, activist training to grassroots organizers, and rapid response to law enforcement encounters. We work with local, state and national legislators to raise awareness of issues concerning medical marijuana patients. Our successful media and legal campaigns have resulted in important court precedents, new sentencing standards, and more compassionate community guidelines. For more information, visit 
 -- Rebecca Saltzman
Field Coordinator
Americans for Safe Access
p (510) 251-1856
f (510) 251-2036
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Comment #1 posted by charmed quark on August 17, 2005 at 16:53:27 PT
Mentions vaporization!
Great article, and in NEJM
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