Up In Smoke

Supreme Court Snuffs Medical Marijuana Clubs, But Users Vow To Keep on Toking

Gottfried also notes that the Food and Drug Administration approved one of the active chemicals in pot as safe and effective when it's marketed by a drug company as Marinol. "For the Supreme Court to say that they cannot review a congressional determination that the same ingredient when inhaled is criminal is utterly irrational," says Gottfried.

Perhaps most frustrating to medical marijuana advocates was the court's refusal to reconsider marijuana's designation as a "schedule one" drug, for which there are no exceptions. "The court seems to say that if Congress makes a medical decision, that's the end of the discussion," says Gottfried. Pending federal legislation sponsored by Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank would reclassify pot as a "schedule two" drug, making it legal to prescribe, as some opiates and barbiturates already are.

In the meantime, medical marijuana advocates are doing what little they can. Even if they won't be providing pot, "[B]uyers' clubs will continue to provide ID cards," says NORML's Stroup. And most patients will continue to get their pot illegally, whether from small cooperatives or dealers on the corner.

It's an arrangement that many medical marijuana users find sorely inadequate. "Eventually, the U.S. is going to have to make some kind of exception for medical marijuana," says the Patients' Cooperative's Toglia. "Until then, it'll be like the French resistance—a lot of people risking their lives to keep others alive."

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