Medicinal use of marijuana: the question must be solved

State laws do not protect people whose doctors recommend &to=http:// ' target=_blank>marijuana to ease pain caused by cancer and other serious illnesses, and those who use it can be prosecuted by federal authorities, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

In a defeat for marijuana advocates who successfully lobbied 10 states to allow the drug's medicinal use, the high court -- in a 6-3 ruling -- overturned a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that said medicinal marijuana users Angel Raich and Diane Monson, both of California, were immune to federal prosecution.

The use of marijuana at the recommendation of a doctor has been legal in California since voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996. Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state have enacted similar laws, tells the Washington Times.

According to the USA Today, The Drug Policy Alliance, a group in Oakland that supports more lenient &to=http:// ' target=_blank>drug laws, estimated that there are more than 113,000 registered users of marijuana in the 10 medical-marijuana states, with more than 100,000 in California alone.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the USA. About 95 million Americans age 12 and older have used marijuana or hashish in their lifetime, according to the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. About 15 million people use marijuana regularly, the survey found.

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