Friday, March 16, 2007

What have they been smoking?

At Open Market, a recent US court decision is put in its proper context. This is how insane the anti-cannabis hysteria has become:

In Raich v. Gonzales, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco held yesterday that there is no fundamental right to take medical marijuana, even when it is recommended by a physician to save life, and even when other drugs have failed.

The case involved Angel McClary Raich, who uses marijuana on doctors’ advice to treat an inoperable brain tumor and several other serious and excruciatingly painful ailments. Ms. Raich explains that the drug keeps her alive by relieving unbearable pain and stimulating appetite in a way that prescription drugs do not. California state law permits the use of medical marijuana on a doctor’s advice, but federal law does not.

The court’s decision was wrong. Recognizing a fundamental right to obtain a potentially life-saving drug with one’s own funds should be no more controversial than other rights that the Supreme Court has recognized, like the right to bodily integrity (Rochin v. California), the right to attend a private school (Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925)), the right to procreate (Skinner v. Oklahoma (1941)), and the right to marry (Loving v. Virginia (1967)).

Unlike those rights, which are not even hinted at in the text of the Constitution, a right to live is alluded to in the Due Process Clauses of the Constitution, which speak of a right to “life,” “liberty,” and “property.” A right to live certainly has far more textual support in the Constitution that the right to abortion recognized by the Supreme Court’s deeply-controversial abortion decisions.

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