February 03, 2006
Grim Raich Aftermath
Any fair minded person paying even modest attention to events in California would have to agree that things haven't gone so well since Raich was "decided" of by a predictably cautious SCOTUS in June.
That the Court refused to deal with even one key issue was no surprise ; predictably, it focused on an obscure World War Two case involving wheat subsidies. Whether they even looked at a question that SHOULD have been raised by the 1914 Harrison Act- direct federal intrusion into medical practice- wasn't mentioned; perhaps not even researched. Why 'reform's' brain trust had assumed that a recent Court expression of distaste for the Interstate Commerce Clause might signal a willingness to overturn our carefully protected drug policy isn't at all clear; however, that's clearly what they did-- and the results aren't pretty.
One result has been sharply increased punishment of California medical users by law enforcement entities at all levels; all of it patently unfair and callously inhumane. Several activists free on bail while defending themselves against state charges were summarily arrested and jailed on federal warrants. There was little publicity and even less protest. Three are still held as federal prisoners in the the Fresno County Jail while their ridiculously complex bond procedures drone on. One (Thunder Rector) was released on unknown conditions to a halfway house in Modesto where he may or may not have received the Marinol reportedly prescribed for him.
Will Foster, already famous for a 93 year sentence for medical use in Oklahoma (1997), and grudgingly released on parole after serving over four years, was arrested by California police as a 'parole violator.' He has already been jailed for weeks and will remain in custody in Santa Rosa, at least until February 27th. Significantly, this isn't the first time such a travesty has occurred; but this time it seems more likely Will could be sent back to Oklahoma
Meanwhile, the seven year vendetta pursued by Placer County officials
against activist and cancer survivor Steve Kubby has also taken an ominous
turn. As this is written, Steve and his family are probably boarding an
Alaska Airlines plane to the Bay Area on his way to serving a potentially
lethal 120 day sentence in the Auburn jail. Perhaps as well as any,
the Kubby saga
exemplifies the disgraceful tactics used by American police and prosecutors to punish non-violent patients as 'criminals' for daring to seek relief from cannabis. Kubby's case is particularly poignant; not only does cannabis provide palliation; it has probably been the reason for his prolonged survival with a usually fatal malignant tumor. The antics of Canadian authorities who weren't persuaded by the public statements of Placer County officials that Steve would be both promptly jailed and prevented from receiving cannabis are in sharp contrast to the refusal of their predecessors who wouldn't extradite a serial murderer because he might face the death penalty.
One is left with the idea that when it comes to certain human behaviors- and drug use is certainly one of them- there is very little honesty to be found anywhere. Just why that may be so is suggested by data gathered from pot smokers; the data itself and the speculation it gives rise to will be aired in due time.
Meanwhile, we can only hope there is enough public support for medical use to persuade those now in power to reconsider their current inhumane treatment of patients.
But I'm not holding my breath.
Tom O'Connell, MD