Both liberal and conservative Supreme Court justices expressed doubt yesterday that sick patients should be allowed to use doctor-recommended marijuana to relieve pain, reports USA Today. Justice Antonin Scalia said federal law criminalizing marijuana trumps a California law that allows chronically ill patients to use it. Making an exception for patients, Justice David Souter said, could open the door to widespread marijuana use and to fraudulent claims of illness by recreational pot smokers in California and 10 other states that allow medical marijuana. Justice Stephen Breyer said advocates for medical marijuana should ask the federal Food and Drug Administration to reclassify pot as having a medical use.
The justices heard a case brought by Angel Raich and Diane Monson, critically ill Californians seeking to use marijuana under state law without facing federal prosecution. The women argue that marijuana provides relief for symptoms of an inoperable brain tumor, scoliosis, and other ailments for which conventional medicine is of little or no help. The decision, expected by July, is likely to have an impact on the other states that permit marijuana use for medical reasons: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.