No worse example exists of the moral cowardice of the federal government -- implicating all three branches -- than the continuing prohibition of marijuana for medical therapy.
Despite copious evidence that pot has helped to ameliorate the lives of thousands of patients suffering from cancer and AIDS -- and despite burgeoning voter support for legal reform -- Washington officialdom persists in its lethal devotion to prohibition. Even when a blameless woman comes before them to plead for her life, the constituted authorities seem unable to think beyond a law, more than three decades old, that has long since been superseded by science and common sense.
What is most remarkable about this problem is how impervious our politicians (and most of our judges) are to human compassion and scientific data. To enforce marijuana prohibition, they would willingly endanger the health and lives of innocent citizens -- and even cast aside principles they profess to hold deeply.
Messrs. Ashcroft and Hutchinson are devout Christians of a fundamentalist stripe. Both claim to be "pro-life," but they see no contradiction in depriving Ms. Raich and many other patients of the substance that keeps them alive. Both claim to promote "family values," but they are determined to destroy any family with a member who needs this drug. Both would insist on "states' rights" as a cornerstone of constitutional law, but they won't allow any state to experiment with marijuana reform.
In a society that still promotes alcohol and tobacco, as well as many narcotics and pharmaceuticals with severe side effects, the draconian regulation of marijuana is both illogical and cruel. That is why Americans across red and blue states from Arizona to Maine have voted repeatedly to reform those laws for the sake of the seriously ill.
This is going to get better and better. SCOTUS is looking at it as an interpretation of commerce laws. States' Rights seems to be OK for abortion and gay marriage, but not to change the law on a controlled substance that helps people if Big Pharma can't profit from it.
Not to mention the deep-seated Puritan fear that someone, somewhere, might use this particular substance for FUN. It might lead to dancing or some other sin. Oh, the horror!