Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Monday, November 29, 2004

Medicinal Marijuana Before the Court

Again via Boortz, whose permalinks are still broken. You can find his web site at and just go to the archives.

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today on whether Federal laws banning marijuana overrule the laws of ten states which have legalized it for medicinal purposes. I think the question is a little bigger than that, because if regulation of medical marijuana is to be left up to the states, there is no principled reason why all marijuana use - medicinal or not - shouldn't be up to the states.

Boortz the Libertarian, of course, believes that the war on drugs has been a total failure, that all marijuana use should be allowed, and that laws to the contrary come from "the 'don't worry, we'll tell you how to live your life' branch of the Republican party." He has a poll on the question up on his site with three options: legalize it for all purposes, legalize it for medicinal use, or keep it illegal. As I write this, 32% of his listeners say yes for medicinal use, 54% say yes for all purposes, and a mere 14% say no.

I am certainly not in the "yes for all purposes" camp. In addition to my moral objections to drug use, including marijuana use, I think it would be a policy disaster.

But at the same time, I don't know which of the other two categories I fall in. On the one hand, I do not object to drugs, for example morphine, when used for medicinal purposes. When I went to the emergency room last summer, they shot me full of this amazing stuff called Dilaudid that, I was told, is ten times more powerful than morphine, and although I've never had morphine, I believe it. It was insane. I took Viocdin, too, but hated that.

So what's the difference between medicinal marijuana and medicinal anything else? Part of it is cultural. Because marijuana is only quasi-illegal now, more people use it than use harder things like morphine. There is much less of a stigma on it, and therefore the danger is greater that people will experiment with it, and get trapped into worse things.

Ultimately, though, I guess I'm on the fence. Anyone want to persuade me one way or the other?

Update: From Boortz' website today: "The cause of medical marijuana would be helped a lot if so many of the people who were using medical marijuana didn't look like drug-crazed zombies."