For more than a decade, Joseph Casias of Battle Creek, Mich. has endured the painful symptoms of an inoperable brain tumor and cancer. For years, Joseph had been prescribed a drug called Lorcet that offered him only minimal pain relief and caused him to suffer from severe nausea. Joseph has refused to let his debilitating illness prevent him from living a full and successful life.
Contemporary scientific evidence confirms the countless stories of the therapeutic effects of medical marijuana, which has provided unique relief for serious conditions, including cancer and AIDS, when no other medicine is as effective or free of side effects such as nausea or loss of appetite. Nearly one million patients nationwide now use medical marijuana as recommended by their doctors and in accordance with state laws.
Unfortunately, despite the scientifically proven benefits of medical marijuana, and even though nearly one-third of states have recognized those benefits, the federal government continues to ignore the facts, criminalize medical marijuana and obstruct further research into its medical benefits. In fact, the federal government categorizes drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine less seriously and thus permits such drugs to be prescribed where appropriate while prohibiting the prescription of marijuana to seriously ill patients.
Stubbornly denying the medical benefits of marijuana – and thus treating it differently than more serious drugs subject to extreme abuse – is scientifically unsound and deprives seriously ill patients of much-needed pain relief.
The federal government should make clear that it will not prosecute patients, doctors or dispensary operators for complying with state medical marijuana laws. Patients, providers and legislatures need assurance that they can proceed in confidence that state laws will be respected.
Through advocacy and litigation, the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project is working to increase the number of states that have authorized the use of medical marijuana, and to dissuade the federal government from prosecuting people for using medical marijuana in compliance with state laws.