Medical Marijuana

Both USA Today and NPR featured stories on how the Supreme Court is going to hear a case on medical marijuana today. The question, as near as I can tell, is whether or not the federal government has a say in a state's desire to allow the use of marijuana for the treatment of symptoms related to AIDS, various cancers, glaucoma, etc.

Opponents-- such as the Drug Free America Foundation-- argue that legalizing medical marijuana is just a first step towards the decriminalziation of pot for recreational use. Others, however-- including various pro-pot groups (e.g. NORML), as well as nine states ranging from California to Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, want to limit the federal government's power in this matter, albeit for different reasons.

Presonally, I favor with the medical marijuana crowd, following Dr. Dean Edell that it is unconscionable to think that our government would deny people access to something that would ease the pain of those suffering from serious chronic illness. Indeed, given the fact that they already allow for the use of morphine, why not marijuana?

Of course, according to the USA Today, "the Bush administration argues that Congress has found no accepted medical use of marijuana," but this is crazy considering this administration's stance towards science in general. (Witness the letter from the Union of Concerned Scientists.) It's also crazy in light of this article in the journal Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience 15:6 (July 2000), which argues to the contrary. (Sorry-- I can access this via a Hopkins library computer; others may not be able to read the link!)

Perhaps if Congress would loosen their restrictions on using marijuana in experiments in this country (the article cited above was written by Brits) we might have a better idea of just what the drug can and cannot do. As I've noted earlier, shouldn't decisions be made in light of the best data available, rather than making the decision beforehand and then forcing the data to fit that choice?