Medical Pot in the Dock


The United States Supreme Court hears arguments today in Raich v. Ashcroft, a case with potentially massive implications for the drug war, federalism, and the outrageous abuse of the Constitution's commerce clause. Some details from an Arizona Republic story:

Since 1996, California and 11 other states have passed laws that ease or eliminate sanctions for the medicinal use of pot. But the federal government says it still has the right to prosecute Raich and patients like her because federal law considers pot a harmful drug without proven medical benefits….

Today, in a lawsuit brought by [39-year-old medical marijuana user Angel] Raich and another patient, the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a question that a growing number of medical marijuana users say is critical to their physical well-being and that the federal government says is important to its war against illegal drugs: When it comes to pot and patients, does federal or state law rule?…

"I understand that my case brings up an interesting point of law that fascinates judges and lawyers," Raich says. "But for me, it's a matter of life and death. With cannabis, I can play with my kids, walk without a wheelchair, sometimes even get a few hours' sleep at night. Without it, I couldn't go on for very long."

Whole thing here.

Here's hoping that Raich wins, that federalism wins, and that Congress' expansive reading of the commerce clause loses.

Reason's Jacob Sullum looked at some of the issues at stake in his column here.