Continued Fight Against Medical Marijuana Indefensible

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by RMJL, Aug 4, 2003.


    by Paul Campos, Scripps Howard News Service,


    Recently I underwent minor knee surgery. For the post-operative pain I was given Oxycontin, a powerful narcotic related to morphine. Oxycontin has been on the prescription drug market for about seven years. Soon after its introduction, it became a popular recreational drug in rural America, so much so that it acquired the moniker "hillbilly heroin."

    The drug has apparently moved upmarket, as evidenced by the news that the teenage son of rock musician and television star Ozzy Osbourne has become addicted to the substance. Oxycontin is both quite addictive and potentially dangerous: It's estimated that in the past couple of years several hundred people have suffered fatal overdoses from the drug.

    In this regard Oxycontin is no different than various other powerful prescription painkillers. Unfortunately, drugs that offer effective relief from severe pain are almost always both physically addictive and easy to ingest in fatal quantities.

    A pain reliever that has neither of these disadvantages is marijuana. Marijuana has none of the addictive qualities of powerful narcotics such as Oxycontin and Percoset, nor is it possible to overdose on the drug. In addition, many people suffering extreme pain from illnesses such as cancer report that smoking marijuana provides more effective relief for them than prescription narcotics.

    In the past few years, California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Maine, Hawaii and Nevada have all given doctors the legal right to prescribe marijuana for patients who would benefit from this comparatively harmless pain reliever. In an outburst of disgusting hypocrisy that ought to make even the most cynical drug warrior blush, the Bush administration has followed in the Clinton administration's footsteps by continuing to use federal government power and money to override state sovereignty on this issue.

    The DEA and the Justice Department are persecuting doctors that prescribe medical marijuana, even though these doctors have every right to do so under the laws of the states in which they practice. In an effort to stop this abuse of federal power, a bipartisan congressional coalition, led by Reps. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Sam Farr, D-Ca., managed to get the House of Representatives to vote on an amendment that would have prevented the DEA and the Justice Department from spending federal tax dollars to raid and prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers.

    Although the amendment was defeated by a vote of 273-152, the mere fact that one house of Congress actually voted on this issue is an important step forward. Two-thirds of House Democrats voted to end the federal government's refusal to abide by state medical marijuana laws. This mirrors the percentage of the American public who support medical marijuana. Fifteen brave Republican House members resisted the enormous pressure put on them by their leadership and the White House, by voting to uphold principles of states rights that the Bush administration likes to invoke on a selective basis.

    This is far from the end of the story. A similar bill is slated to be introduced in the Senate later this year, and the House amendment is likely to be voted on again next summer, when Congress will once again authorize the Justice Department's budget.

    If you oppose using your tax dollars to persecute doctors who, because of the bizarre fixations of our drug warriors, can legally prescribe morphine for minor surgical pain but cannot prescribe a much safer drug to relieve the agony of terminal cancer patients, let your elected representatives know. Of all the excesses and absurdities of the drug war, the federal government's persecution of medical marijuana is perhaps the most barbaric and indefensible.

    MAP posted-by: Richard Lake
    Pubdate: Thu, 31 Jul 2003
    Source: Gleaner, The (Henderson, KY)
    Copyright: 2003 The E.W. Scripps Co
    Note: Requires 'Letter to editor' in the subject line of e-mail
    Author: Paul Campos, Scripps Howard News Service
    Note: The writer is a law professor at the University of Colorado.
    Also: This OPED has appeared in other newspapers. See
  2. Righton RMJL! Keep up the fight & keep spreading the word! We will not continue to be denied!

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