Notes: Arguments were made before the United States Supreme Court this past week on the issue of medical marijuana use. The appeal is from California where the state allows prescription use of marijuana for relief of suffering resulting from illnesses. However, a 1970 federal law makes marijuana an illegal drug. Thus, the basic legal issue is whether the federal government can prosecute the use of prescription marijuana when a state decides to allow it. Nine states have laws allowing it.

The Oakland Cannabis Buyer's Cooperative argues that the "medical necessity" defense invests federal courts with the power to decide if the use is warranted. Reportedly, Justice Scalia sarcastically asked if a stomach ache warranted its use as a "medical necessity." I wonder if Scalia is able to be flippant about his own stomach aches. Often the conservatives on the court, like Scalia, side with states rights. But will they be able to this time?

The issue here is a fairly narrow legal one so long as the United States Congress prevents the use of marijuana for medical purposes. That's ashamed because the real issue is whether a society should deny a drug to people who claim it relieves their suffering. Of course it should not. 04.01.01