Anita L. Lewis
Soc.120 Introduction to Ethics& Social Responsibility
March 30, 2013
In 1996 California voters first approved an initiative legalizing possession and sale of
marijuana for medical purpose in Proposition, thirteen other states followed suit. In addition, two
more states have passed laws that, in one case, permit physicians to prescribe it (Arizona) and in
another, allow it medical use as a legal defense in a prosecution for unlawful possession
(Maryland): bills to legalize marijuana have been introduced in the state.
In 2009 the U.S. Department of Justice (Do) announced that prosecutorial priorities
should not target ...view middle of the document...
Finally, section c shows that most commentators have dismissed state medical marijuana
laws as a largely symbolic, doomed-to-failure experiment, by suggesting states lack the authority
to legalize something Congress proscribes or by suggesting that medial use of the drug will
succumb to the harsh federal ban.
A current State Laws: since the 1930s, every state has banned the cultivation,
distribution, and possession of marijuana for non- medical purpose. In most cases, a violation of
one of these bans constitutes a criminal offense. To be sure, a few states have decriminalized
very minor marijuana offenses(i.e., simple possession of an ounce or less) without regard to use.
But it is important to recognize that marijuana remains forbidden in such states-minor
offenses continue to trigger civil sanctions, and more serious offenses remain subject to criminal
sanctions. Thus, outside the context of recently enacted medical use exemptions (discussed
below), marijuana remains a strictly forbidden and usually (though not always) criminal drug at
the state level.
The exemptions vary, but all thirteen states apply a common framework for determining
who qualifies for them. To begin, they specify that a prospective medical marijuana user must
have a debilitating medical condition that has been diagnosed by a physician in the course of
bona fide medical exam.
The list of qualifying conditions typically includes cancer, glaucoma, AIDS(or HIV), and
other chronic diseases that produce symptoms like severe pain, nausea, seizures, or persistent
muscle spasms. In additions to being diagnosed with a qualifying condition, all states require a
prospective user to obtain his or her physician’s recommendation to use marijuana.
A recommendation is not a prescription (for reasons explained below, this seemingly
trivial distinction does matter). To recommend marijuana, the physician need only conclude,
after considering other treatment options, that marijuana “may benefit” the patient: 20 as it
sounds, this standards appears fairly easy to satisfy. In every state except California, the