Editor, Daily Nexus:
In this great nation of ours the Supreme Court is supposed to have the final word on the difficult legal issues of the day. On Monday, it ruled 8 to 0 that federal laws banning the sale or distribution of medical marijuana trump the rights of the states to promote the health of seriously ill patients.
So why does this feel so unsatisfying, so incomplete? Perhaps because we have just witnessed the elevation of the sanctity of the War on Drugs to new, absurd heights. Now the right of seriously and terminally ill patients to seek the medication that helps them has taken a back seat to law enforcement’s interest in making war on the casual marijuana user. This would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic.
The Supreme Court’s decision is even more hollow because it sees the United States as a nation of laws, not of human beings. Regardless of what sick and dying people have said about the efficacy of marijuana, the Court considered only the opinion of the very institution that is not only foisting the War on Drugs on an increasingly reluctant nation but is also neither apolitical nor expert in the medical properties of marijuana – the U.S. Congress.
Lastly, the Court’s decision is based on some novel interpretations of existing law. Thanks to the decision, marijuana is held to a higher standard than any other drug in the federal approval process. According to normal federal guidelines, a drug merely has to be demonstrated as effective and safe to be approved. The Court has now carved a special condition for marijuana – it has to be MORE effective than current synthetic (and patentable) drugs. As a result, the government has pushed Marinol as a substitute for marijuana. As Marinol is basically THC in a pill, it calls into question the government’s motives for banning marijuana in the first place, the main psychoactive ingredient being THC. Of course, the government now claims that marijuana’s main threat is its ability to cause cancer, which has little meaning to a terminally ill patient and makes one wonder how cigarettes remain legal under such logic.
In the end, the Court’s decision represents the triumph of power over reason and process over justice. The War on Drugs has been spared for at least a few more dark and dismal years.