The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected President Bush's request for the justices to consider whether the government can punish doctors who recommend or discuss medical marijuana usage with their seriously ill patients, CNN reports. Bush had asked the high court to allow the federal government to strip licenses for prescribing federally controlled substances from any doctor who encouraged medical marijuana use. A federal appeals court had already ruled against the Bush administration, saying that "physicians must be able to speak frankly and openly to patients," even about marijuana use. By rejecting the White House's request, the Supreme Court has cleared the way for state laws allowing patients with diseases like AIDS, cancer, and glaucoma to smoke marijuana if a doctor recommends it.
Nine states have laws legalizing medical marijuana use--Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Thirty-five states have passed legislation recognizing marijuana's medicinal value. But marijuana is considered a controlled substance with no medical benefit by the federal government. Federal law prohibits the growing of, use, sale, or possession of marijuana in all circumstances. Despite state laws allowing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, federal officials still can arrest and prosecute anyone growing, distributing, or using the drug, even with doctor approval.