I’m not much of a pot smoker, but you don’t have to be to appreciate the idiocy behind (and potential woe to stem from) Angel Raich losing her federal appeal today – likely the most important court case regarding the use of medical marijuana. Raich, who is suffering from a brain tumor, scoliosis, seizures and chronic nausea (to name a few of her troubles), smokes or eats marijuana every few hours to ease her pain and boost an otherwise non-existent appetite. An affidavit presented to the Supreme Court from her doctor enumerated the 35 alternative medicines she has tried without success. He added that she “may suffer rapid death” -a claim only confirmed, not challenged in court- if forced to stop using the marijuana she consumes (via pipe, massage oils, and quantities of pot-spiked zucchini bread). This despite the fact that she lives in Cali, home of the “Compassionate Use Act”  which was designed to “ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician…[and] to ensure that patients and their primary caregivers who obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes upon the recommendation of a physician are not subject to criminal prosecution or sanction.” (Or sanction!?) Well, this case confirms the federal big(ger) bully proclamation that their laws trump state laws, and utilizes certainly uncompassionate lingo concerning “commerce” and “interstate” to degrade the needs of the terminally ill and peddle the idea that a dying woman’s personal flower pot ganja garden is somehow going to affect the drug marketplace.
The AP reported this morning “The Supreme Court ruled against Raich two years ago, saying that medical marijuana users and their suppliers could be prosecuted for breaching federal drug laws even if they lived in a state such as California where medical pot is legal. Because of that ruling, the issue before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was narrowed to the so-called right to life theory: that marijuana should be allowed if it is the only viable option to keep a patient alive.” “I’m a dead woman walking,” Raich said after the ruling. “Now, if the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) knocked at my door, they could take my life and get away with it.” Indeed, she would have to get arrested in order for such a case to be argued in court under the “medical necessity defense.” Though she and her lawyer, ex-husband Robert Raich, can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the hopes are slim since the justices have already ruled against them once before. Raich, 41, began sobbing when she was told of the decision and said she would continue using the drug.” Well really, what are her options?
Here in Hawaii, many feel protected by these medical cannabis laws. Senate Bill 862, which took effect on December 28, 2000, “removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess a signed statement from their physician affirming that he or she suffers from a debilitating condition and that the ‘potential benefits of medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks.’… Patients (or their primary caregivers) may legally possess no more than one ounce of usable marijuana, and may cultivate no more than seven marijuana plants, of which no more than three may be mature. The law establishes a mandatory, confidential state-run patient registry that issues identification cards to qualifying patients. To date, approximately 2,600 cards have been issued to registered patients.”
Despite that comforting thought, with today’s verdict we see there really is no protection afforded those who follow all the rules of their state’s medical marijuana legislation. I smoke only on rare occasion, but when I got into a serious accident, bedridden for the majority of six months and dosed with heavy opiate narcotics, it was with the help of marijuana and a vaporizer that I was able to deal with the pain while weaning myself off the drugs (it was easy to stop the pot use after that). But, like any decent suspicious cynic, especially regarding government fervor and control and abuses of power, the idea of adding my name to such a list in order to obtain medical marijuana, even if I had every right to, seemed inane. I have no reason to assume the feds can’t gain access to such a list, and then do as they have to Ms. Raich and many in similar positions, that is raid their homes and disrupt their healing process…in the name of following stupid rules for rule-sake, like brain-dead foot-soldiers of a monster army controlled by the War-On-Everything fascist power-elite. How does such a highly evolved society allow low IQ nimrods to have dominance over them? Power to tell them what drugs are sanctioned for use and abuse and what drugs aren’t? In an age of Vicodin as candy, Crystal Meth to function, and an AA for everything under the sun, how dare they force us into collusion by making us pretend their supposed methods for protecting citizens from themselves actually work (no, we shant insert here countless examples and references to the well-known or at least assumed notion that the war on drugs is simply good cover for a government which is in fact the largest drug dealer in the world).
With 11 states (maybe 12, I think New Mexico just passed today) giving patients “legal” access to marijuana, State (not Federal!?!) legislators feel the moral imperative of responding to people who are sick and dying. As reported in the Drug War Chronicle, “While in most medical marijuana states, the laws came about through the initiative and referendum process — only Hawaii, Vermont, and Rhode Island have legalized medical marijuana through the legislature — medical marijuana bills are pending this year in more than 20 states…. While advocates concede that given the cumbersome process of making law in the country’s state houses, actual passage of medical marijuana legislation is likely this year in only a handful of states at best, it seems that medical marijuana has come in from the cold and is now a thoroughly mainstream issue.”
Here in Hawaii, the people are living proof of the failure of our drug laws. It’s similar to when they purposely brought the mongoose to the islands to cut down the rat population. Sure, the mongoose may like to chow a rat, but who knows, since the rats live by night, and the mongoose by day – never their twain shall meet. Now we have both problems. As authorities decided to crack down on marijuana growers here, crack was making its surge on America’s youth. Without the usual availability of inexpensive pakalolo, locals turned to the more available new high (one in which there was no question whether or not it is addictive!). Now both exist. As mentioned on the THC Ministry website: “There are many reasons for the rise of crystal meth in Hawai’i, including the fact that we are a ‘gateway’ state from the Far East, where crystal meth has been manufactured and used as far back as World War II. Also, officials say the rise in the use of this drug paralleled the growing scarcity and high cost of marijuana following successful drives to tamp down, if not eliminate, the marijuana trade in the Islands. To the degree this is true, it was a bad tradeoff because crystal meth has far more potential to make the user harmful to others than marijuana.”
No friggin’ kidding! The trade-off went from mellow locals smokin’ at the beach to freaked-out emaciated whack-jobs robbing your house, stealing your car, and regular old rape n’ pillage shit. Can you imagine, in a state famous for high THC buds, shipping coolers of excess weed to the mainland, that it would become a scarce commodity? That ice would be more inexpensive and easier to procure? Since the ’80s when state-funded Operation Green Harvest was given power for their own pillaging -of jungle pot farms- and intensive low-flying (i.e. loud, annoying, terrorizing) helicopter surveillance, rural local communities -especially the economically challenged areas- have been inundated with ice ice baby, and the Aloha State has become famous for something else: being the nation’s highest partaker in methamphetamine. Congrats big wigs – you win again!
Sure I don’t need to use pot right now, but someday I might. And no elected power-that-be deserves the right to take that right away from anyone. Angel Raich’s life as she knows it is bearable because of marijuana, and just because no pharmaceutical company is going to make a windfall from her downfall, that shouldn’t prevent her from obtaining the best treatment for her ailment and relief from her pain. This case is just another example of when the people speak (scream, kick…), and the government does not listen.