13 Hamline J. Pub. L. & Pol'y 117 (1992)
The Medical Use of Marijuana: The Politics of Medicine

handle is hein.journals/hplp13 and id is 123 raw text is: Current Public Law and Policy Issues

The Medical Use of Marijuana: The Politics of Medicine
The United States government grows marijuana and hands out pre-
rolled joints to seriously ill patients, yet it feverishly denies the drug has
a legitimate medical use.' The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
maintains that making marijuana a prescription drug would send the wrong
message to this country's youth, but cocaine and morphine are prescription
drugs.2 Although the government claims the vast majority of American
physicians are against the medical use of marijuana, in a recent survey
nearly fifty percent of the responding physicians said they would prescribe
the drug to cancer patients.3 An administrative law judge for the DEA,
after two years of hearings, concluded that it would be unreasonable, ar-
bitrary, and capricious for the DEA not to change marijuana's status.4
Despite the overwhelming evidence, however, the government has re-
mained entrenched in its policy opposing medical marijuana.
The debate over marijuana was historically, and is currently, political
rather than scientific. The federal government's current reluctance to ac-
cept a legitimate medical use for marijuana flows directly from the exhaus-
tive efforts it has expended over the past five and a half decades to prohibit
and discourage recreational marijuana use.
This comment will examine the history of marijuana policy-making in
the United States, the current call for marijuana as medicine, and the tac-
tics used to stifle that call. Federal and state cases and statutes will be ana-
lyzed in an attempt to clear some of the confusion which necessarily
surrounds a decision based upon illogical reasoning and political self-pres-
ervation. Finally, this article will offer a remedy for this clearly unjust
A. Early Medicinal Use of Marijuana
Physicians in the United States recognized the therapeutic potential of
1. Michael Isikoff, HHS to Phase Out Marijuana Program - Officials Fear Sending 'Bad Signal'
by Giving Drug to Seriously Ill, WASH. POST, June 22, 1991, at A14.
2. Id.
3. RonaldJ. Ostrow, Forty-Eight Percent of Cancer Specialists in Study Would Prescribe Pot, L.A.
TIMES, May 1, 1991, at A12.

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