Raich Down But Never Out
By Jordan Smith,
2:16PM, Tue. May 15, 2007
After a nearly five-year legal battle in court to secure her right to use medi-pot in compliance with California state law, patient-advocate guru Angel Raich announced late last week that she will drop her legal appeals.
Raich fought the law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where an oddly divided majority opined that the feds have the authority to prosecute state medi-pot patients as part of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. (Notably, crazy-ass Justice Antonin Scalia jumped his otherwise “strict constructionist” ship to join the court’s more liberal wing to affirm federal power over that of the state, thereby denying Raich protection from federal intrusion – gotta wonder what he was smokin’ that day, eh?) Undaunted, Raich battled on – despite her serious illnesses, including wasting disease and a growing brain tumor – heading back to court to argue that the common law doctrine of “necessity” should protect her from medi-pot-prosecuting federal narcos. In March the appeals court ruled against her again, but opined that she could use a medically necessary defense if she were ever charged – the sort of situation that the seriously ill Raich is desperately trying to avoid.
While she could’ve gone on to appeal the case, again to the Supremes, Raich told Reefer Madness last month that she was done fighting for patient rights in the courts – at least for now. Part of the problem is that in fighting primarily through the judicial system there’s a chance that you’ll end up “making bad law,” she says – that is, setting precedent that will later be hard to ward off, like the Supremes’ wacky 2005 ruling. More disheartening, however, is her overall view of the judiciary: “I’ve really lost faith in the legal and judicial system – as much as they care, they really don’t care,” she says. “Life is not precious in this country – it is not as scared as our constitution makes it out to be.”
Raich will be taking some time out now, to access treatment for an inoperable brain tumor that has been causing her increasing physical difficulty in recent months. Still, don’t expect that Raich will be dropping out of sight Instead, expect to see her not in the courthouse halls, but in the halls of Congress where she says she intends to keep the medi-pot fight alive, lobbying for laws that would protect patients like her. (Hell, she says, Congress got close, once – however misguided – with the dustup over Terry Schiavo, to whom she says her situation has been compared, but without any of the consequent ranting and grandstanding about sanctity of life: “I’m wondering, why isn’t Congress jumping up and down on this issue” of medi-pot, she muses. One word answer: Pot.) She plans to lobby with the Marijuana Policy Project and to, generally, become the articulate advocate thorn-in-their-sides that we’ve all grown to love.
You go girl.