Patients for Medical Cannabis

Pancreatic cancer surviror Mellody Gannon smokes medicinal marijuana. (Robert Galbraith/Reuters/The Atlantic)

Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, but the drug remains illegal under federal law. Imagine a retired grandmother who is suffering terribly with a serious illness. Her doctor believes that marijuana might help. Her neighbors don’t mind if she fills a pot prescription: They overwhelmingly voted to give her that right. Sure enough, the woman finds that smoking weed lessens her suffering. Should the federal government be empowered to arrest her for consuming it?

Many in Congress think so. And while federal agents are unlikely to intervene in this sort of case because the optics would be so awful, the law allows for it.

But Senator Rand Paul, a Republican, and his Democratic colleagues, Senators Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, hope a legislative majority will endorse a less-callous approach. Tuesday…

View original post 475 more words