nd Legal BattleMarijuana: A Horticultural Revolution, A Medical and Legal BattleFor years there has been a wonder drug which has befriended countless sickpatients in a number of countries. A relatively inexpensive drug that is notcovered by health care plans which has aided the ill both mentally andphysically–marijuana. Significant scientific and medical studies havedemonstrated that marijuana is safe for use under medical supervision and thatthe cannabis plant, in its natural form, has important therapeutic benefits thatare often of critical medical importance to persons afflicted with a variety oflife-threatening illnesses. Courts have recognized marijuana’s medical value intreatment and have ruled that marijuana can be a drug of necessity in thetreatment of glaucoma, cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis.
From thecollection of information we now have on marijuana’s health benefits for the ill,there is no longer any reason to keep it illegal. It should therefore be legalfor licensed physicians to prescribe marijuana for terminal patients for whom itoffers the only reasonable opportunity for living without unbearable pain. Marijuana has been used many times to help ease pain and suffering. Itoften eases nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, reduces the painof AIDS patients and lowers eye pressure in glaucoma sufferers. Cancer and AIDSpatients often lose a lot of weight, either due directly to their illness orindirectly to the treatment of the illness. Dramatic weight loss puts theirlives in even more danger.
Marijuana stimulates the appetite, thus enablingpatients to eat more and gain weight which in turn strengthens the immune system. So if there are so many benefits, then why is marijuana not legal? Manystates contend that the ban on medical marijuana is necessary to prevent drugabuse and the availability of illicit drugs and to control the purity ofmedicinal drug products. These states have no compelling interest inintervening to needlessly prolong terminal patients’ suffering. States shouldallow the medical use of marijuana under strict regulations, rather than upholdan outdated drug classification scheme. While federal agencies adamantly maintain marijuana has no acceptedmedical use in treatment in the United States, the medical prohibition has comeunder strong legal challenge from seriously ill Americans who have been arrestedon marijuana-related charges.
In U. S. v. Randall, a Washington, D.
C. manafflicted by glaucoma employed the little-used Common Law doctrine of necessityto defend himself against criminal charges of marijuana cultivation. OnNovember 24, 1976, federal Judge James Washington ruled Randall’s use ofmarijuana constituted a medical necessity. In part, Judge Washington ruled:While blindness was shown by competent medical testimonyto be the otherwise inevitable result of defendant’s disease, noadverse effects from the smoking of marijuana have been demon-strated. Medical evidence suggests that the medical prohibitionis not well-founded.
If a judge can determine when a medical necessity is warranted and can rulethat a sick individual should be granted the legal use of marijuana, then shoulda licensed physician not be just as capable of doing so, if not. . . much morecapable? Well trained medical professionals rather than inapt federalbureaucrats should be responsible for determining a patient’s medical careroutine.
This is an intolerable, untenable legal situation. Unless legislators andregulators attend to these urgent human needs and rapidly move to correct theanomaly arising from the absolute prohibition of marijuana which forces lawabiding citizens into the streets – – and criminality – to meet their legitimatemedical needs, cases of the type of U. S. v.
Randall will continue to beprevalent and will increase considerably. There is a pressing need for a morecompassionate, humane law which clearly discriminates between the criminalconduct of those who socially abuse chemicals and the legitimate medical needsof seriously ill patients whose welfare and very lives may depend on the prudenttherapeutic use of those very same substances.Social Issues