The U.S. Supreme Court will rule soon on whether medical marijuana laws in California and nine other states are subject to federal prohibitions, reports the Los Angeles Times. Elderly patients are emerging as a potentially potent force in the debate over health, personal choice, and states’ rights. No one knows how many old folks use cannabis to address their ills, but they probably number in the thousands. Says the Times: “Their pains are unassailable. Their needs for relief are real. Most never touched pot before. As parents in the counterculture ’60s, many waged a generation-gap war with children getting high on the stuff.”
A recent AARP poll found that 72 percent of people 45 and older believe adults should be allowed to use cannabis with a physician’s recommendation. “There’s this sense that when you get old enough, you’ve earned the right to live your own life,” says Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The mantra of the drug war has been to protect our kids. But the notion of a drug war to protect the elderly? That’s ludicrous.” Replies White House drug czar John Walters: “The standard of simply feeling different or feeling better” does not make pot safe and effective medicine. Congress and federal drug regulators have repeatedly rebuffed pleas to legalize medical use of cannabis, which is classified as a dangerous Schedule I drug, along with heroin and LSD.