Insanity. The Controlled Substances Act—a federal law—states explicitly that marijuana has no medicinal uses. It is therefore outlawed for every purpose throughout the USA.
Yet, the Veteran’s Adm., part of the federal government, is now going to allow patients to use MM in states where it is legal without consequence to their continued eligibility for other pain relief. From the story:
The Department of Veterans Affairs will formally allow patients treated at its hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, a policy clarification that veterans have sought for several years. A department directive, expected to take effect next week, resolves the conflict in veterans facilities between federal law, which outlaws marijuana, and the 14 states that allow medicinal use of the drug, effectively deferring to the states. The policy will not permit department doctors to prescribe marijuana. But it will address the concern of many patients who use the drug that they could lose access to their prescription pain medication if caught.
Nobody “prescribes” marijuana because it is a federally controlled substance and federal law won’t permit it. Doctors write letters, which is totally unstructured and means there is no effective regulatory control.
The VA’s action is sending a strong message that MM clearly has legitimate medical uses. And I think that is the importance of this story. One arm of the government is stating, in effect, that the CSA’s finding is factually and scientifically wrong, and that therefore, they are not going to prevent patients from using it where otherwise legal. It is a real rebuke, it seems to me.
Which means the proper course, the principled course, is to change the federal law.
But because President Obama and the Congress are too cowardly to promote such a change for fear they will be called soft on drugs, as if the American people aren’t capable of distinguishing between medicinal and recreational use, we end up in a vicious cycle: The law is factually wrong and so it is increasingly flouted. This, in turn, breeds disrespect for the rule of law generally, as it promotes ad hoc actions to surmount the federal wrongheadedness, such as state medical marijuana laws. These state MM laws then are used as a cover for recreational distribution. This leads to increased pot smoking to get high—the very activity that the CSA is trying to stiffle by wrongly listing marijuana a schedule 1 drug. In other words, the law’s sheer pigheadedness and lack of principle denies suffering people a proper palliative agent as, ironically, it opens the door to easier recreational use.
I repeat: Insanity.