SAN FRANCISCO - A woman whose doctor says marijuana is the only medicine keeping her alive can face federal prosecution on drug charges, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. The ruling was the latest legal defeat for Angel Raich, a mother of two from Oakland suffering from scoliosis, a brain tumor, chronic nausea and other ailments who sued the federal government pre-emptively to avoid being arrested for using the drug. On her doctor’s advice, Raich eats or smokes marijuana every couple of hours to ease her pain and bolster her appetite. The latest legal twist once again highlighted the conflict between the federal government, which declares marijuana an illegal controlled substance with no medical value, and the 11 states allowing medical marijuana for patients with a doctor’s recommendation.
Ah, yes; leave it to a federal appeals court to deliver a resounding “F—k you!!” to a dying woman. A collection of healthy, able-bodied jurists once again have demonstrated the primacy of the rule of law over all else- compassion included. Since simple human compassion can’t be codified into the language of a statue, it’s easier and less risky to rely on the cold, hard language of the law…and Angel Raich can just go ahead and die.
I can understand the “war on drugs” mentality…a pointless waste of material resources and energy though it may be. But a complete and utter lack of compassion for the plight of a dying woman is something I cannot begin to comprehend. Angel Raich deserves better…like being able to live out her remaining days in a minimum of pain and discomfort. Sadly, the war on drugs recognizes neither reason nor compassion.
The Supreme Court ruled against Raich two years ago, saying 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 the gravely ill have a right to marijuana to keep them alive when legal drugs fail.
Raich, 41, began sobbing when she was told of the decision that she was not immune to prosecution and said she would continue using the drug.
The fact that Raich needs the medical marijuana in order to manage her pain and discomfort seems to be lost on the appeals court. While I understand that justice must of necessity be blind, must she also be completely devoid of compassion? It’s not as if Raich was in possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute it. She’s a dying woman who simply wants and needs an effective means for managing her pain and discomfort. Must she be forced to suffer in order to maintain the sanctity and inviolability of the law?
“I’m sure not going to let them kill me,” she said. “Oh, my God.”
The three-judge appeals panel said that the United States has not yet reached the point where “the right to use medical marijuana is ‘fundamental’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.’”
However, the court left open the possibility that Raich, if she was arrested and prosecuted, might be able to argue that she possessed marijuana as a last resort to stay alive, in what is known as a “medical necessity defense.”
“I have to get myself busted in order to try to save my life,” Raich said.
Nice, eh? A dying woman is forced to run the risk of arrest and prosecution merely to have any hope of trying to mitigate her suffering during what little time she may have left.
I would certainly hope that the officious, compassion-deprived justices on the appeals court never find themselves in the situation Angel Raich does. Not that they wouldn’t richly deserve it….
Yes, Virginia…the law truly IS an ass…as are those who interpret it.