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No medical marijuana for you, say Supremes

This is a dumb ruling, but not unexpected. So now Feds can bust terminally ill people — that’s going to put a real dent in the War on Drugs.

Federal authorities may prosecute sick people whose doctors prescribe marijuana to ease pain, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, concluding that state laws don’t protect users from a federal ban on the drug.

The decision is a stinging defeat for marijuana advocates who had successfully pushed 10 states to allow the drug’s use to treat various illnesses. Justice John Paul Stevens, writing the 6-3 decision, said that Congress could change the law to allow medical use of marijuana.

The closely watched case was an appeal by the Bush administration in a case involving two seriously ill California women who use marijuana. The court said the prosecution of pot users under the federal Controlled Substances Act was constitutional.

“I’m going to have to be prepared to be arrested,” said Diane Monson, one of the women involved in the case.

In a dissent, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said that states should be allowed to set their own rules.

Opinion of the Court: Stevens, Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter, Kennedy

Dissent: O’Connor, Rehnquist, Thomas


Other decisions today by the Supreme Court:

* Supreme Court Rejects Women’s Sports Case. The Supreme Court refused Monday to consider reinstating a lawsuit that accuses federal officials of discriminating against male athletes in enforcing equal opportunities for women. Justices without comment rejected an appeal from the National Wrestling Coaches Association and other groups that have been fighting federal policies under the anti-discrimination law known as Title IX.

At issue for the court was whether the challengers showed that the law directly caused a reduction in men’s sports, and whether they should be allowed to sue federal officials. The latest case involved claims that the government is forcing colleges to discriminate against male athletes, because of a requirement that the ratio of male and female athletes be similar to the overall student population. “If unchecked, the gender quota … will continue to cause sweeping injustices and discrimination in colleges nationwide, and is already being applied to public high schools,” justices were told in a brief filed by the Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund.

* Court Expands Scope of Disabilities Law. The Supreme Court, expanding the scope of a landmark federal disabilities law, ruled Monday that foreign cruise lines sailing in U.S. waters must provide better access for passengers in wheelchairs. The narrow 5-4 decision is a victory for disabled rights advocates, who said inadequate ship facilities inhibited their right to “participate fully in society.” Congress intended the 1990 American with Disabilities Act to apply to cruise lines, justices said.

“The statute is applicable to foreign ships in the United States waters to the same extent that it is applicable to American ships in those waters,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. He was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding