Letter: Reefer-endum

By The Daily Illini

(U-WIRE) COLUMBUS, Ohio – The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today regarding medicinal marijuana and the role of the federal ban on marijuana in those cases. Whichever way the court decides, the decision will directly affect thousands of seriously ill individuals in 11 states where medicinal marijuana is legal. Whether these individuals will be able to live in a state of lessened pain and suffering as they do now will be up to the justices.

Marijuana prohibition has enough negative consequences, like the prosecution of thousands with drug-related charges and the consumption of billions of taxpayers’ dollars. It was President Jimmy Carter who said, “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear to me than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use.” The most tragic consequence of the U.S. war on drugs is denying seriously ill patients the benefits that marijuana can provide.

The symptoms that marijuana cures are not simply discomfort from headaches and sprained ankles. Furthermore, medicinal marijuana is not solely an excuse for people to get high. Instead, marijuana relieves the terrible symptoms of life-threatening and terminal illnesses like AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis. Often these illnesses are accompanied by extreme pain, and because of the overwhelming nausea that some cause, swallowing a pain pill is not an option for many patients.

Forcing patients to adhere to a federal marijuana ban is hypocritical and heartless. Other narcotics, like morphine, are at a high risk for abuse. However, because of their medicinal properties, these drugs are legally prescribed. The blame for why marijuana is exempt from the same categorization of these narcotics lies within the U.S. government. And that fault has increased the suffering of thousands in the United States.

Written references of medicinal marijuana date back 5,000 years. It wasn’t until the Marijuana Tax Act of 1941 that physicians had trouble prescribing marijuana. Paul Clement, the Bush administration’s top court lawyer, said “Smoking marijuana really doesn’t have any future in medicine.”

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Perhaps Mr. Clement and the Supreme Court justices should ask the opinion of more than 60 U.S. and international health organizations, including the American Public Health Association and the Federation of American Scientists, who support medicinal marijuana under a physician’s supervision.

More than 60 health organizations, over 5,000 years of medical use and thousands of U.S. citizens supporting the use of medicinal marijuana can’t all be wrong.

Staff Editorial

The Lantern (Ohio State U.)