Every time the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on medical marijuana, concerns have been raised by justices regarding allowing terminally ill patients to use the drug to improve the symptoms and perhaps even prolong life. A federal appeals court in California would hear arguments in the recent round of legal wrangling over the issue, this week.
The so-called right to life theory claims that the use of the drug should be allowed, it is the only viable source of prolonging life or providing relief from excruciating pain, such as in cancer. This appeal would hold good only for sick patients and drug suppliers who reside in one of the 11 states that authorize use of medical marijuana. 'A victory would affect people who are very seriously ill, facing death or great physical suffering,' said Randy Barnett, a lawyer.
Angel Raich, a patient afflicted with brain tumor, uses marijuana frequently to alleviate her pain and bolster her appetite. She suffers from scoliosis (curvature of the spine), chronic nausea and other ailments. It was her case that brought the up the marijuana issue back to the surface. 'She'd probably be dead without marijuana,' remarked Dr. Frank Lucido, her doctor. He has recommended nearly 3000 cancer patient to use the controversial drug.
However officials belonging to the Bush administration have declined the drug use, saying that the lawsuit is without merit. 'There is no fundamental right to distribute, cultivate or possess marijuana,' said Mark Quinlivan, Assistant U.S. Attorney, the government's lead medical marijuana attorney, wrote to the appeals court.
The use of medical marijuana following a doctor's recommendation was first approved in California, in the year 1996. Since then, ten other countries have approved use of the drug. Despite the approval of California voters approving medical use of the drug, Oakland Cannabis Buyer's Cooperative was banned against supply of the drug to Raich in 2001.
The Supreme Court, in last June had passed a ruling stating that medical marijuana users and suppliers would be prosecuted by the federal government. In fact, some drug users and drug suppliers have been arrested and sporadic raids conducted in several different states have been reported.
This condition has prompted Barnett, her lawyer to demand right to use an illegal drug to keep a sick patient alive and relieve torturous pain. Even if the appeal were to be approved, a stop on pot club raids is unlikely. The cancer patient said that she would continue to use the drug despite the outcome of the case.
'I am going to keep doing this until they stop me because this is not a medical cannabis case but a right to life case. The federal government can say who can live and who can die if I lose in the Supreme Court,' she concluded.