Dying mother Angel Raich, 41, has lost her appeal in federal court Wednesday to use marijuana for medical purposes. Her doctor claims marijuana is the only medicine that will keep Raich alive.
The mother of two, from Oakland, CA, has scoliosis, chronic nausea and an inoperable brain tumor, among other ailments. Raich pre-emptively sued the government in an effort to avoid arrest for using marijuana. Raich uses marijuana every few hours, on her doctor's advice.
The 1970 Controlled Substances Act criminalizes heroin, LSD, marijuana and other drugs. In her appeal, Raich was asking for enforcement of this law to be blocked.
A legal conflict exists between federal law, which states marijuana is illegal and has no medical value, and 11 states that allow marijuana use for medical purposes with a doctor's recommendation. Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled against Raich, stating that even individuals living in one of the 11 states allowing medical marijuana can be prosecuted under federal laws.
Due to the Supreme Court ruling, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals narrowed the issue down to the right to life theory. The three appeals judges stated that the U.S. is not to the point where "the right to use medical marijuana is 'fundamental.'" The court did admit, however, that if Raich is later arrested and prosecuted, she may be able to use a "medical necessity defense."
Judge C. Arlen Beam stated in a partial dissent that since Raich has not been arrested, she has no legal standing to bring a case.
Raich told press that "I have to get myself busted in order to try to save my life." Frank Lucido, one of Raich's physicians, said last year that she would "probably be dead without marijuana."
New Mexico may become the 12th state to allow marijuana use for medical purposes. Governor Bill Richardson is expected to sign the bill that lawmakers approved Wednesday.
Several California cities have de-prioritized marijuana offenses, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, Oakland, Santa Barbara and West Hollywood. San Francisco joined the growing number of California cities putting marijuana offenses low on the priority list in December.
Marijuana has been used to treat a variety of illnesses and symptoms, including cancer, glaucoma, hepatitis C, Crohn's disease, HIV or AIDS and multiple sclerosis. It has also been used to treat migraines, seizure disorders, severe or chronic pain or nausea, anorexia, wasting syndrome and agitation of Alzheimer's disease.