Dying Medical Pot Patient Kicked Out of Hospital

By Tony O'Neill 03/14/12

A cancer patient gets ejected from a UCSF hospital for using the marijuana she was prescribed.

Angel Raich using a vaporizer Photo via

The war on drugs hit a new low after a dying cancer patient was kicked out of the hospital University of California-San Francisco last week—for using the marijuana that she'd been prescribed. Angel Raich, 46, has long campaigned for rational marijuana laws. She was named High Times’ “Freedom Fighter of the Year” in 2004, and many see her 2002 lawsuit against the federal government—the so-called “Raich Case”—as the tipping point that made the MMJ movement the powerhouse it is today. She is also dying; she suffers from an inoperable brain tumor, a condition that causes frequent seizures, as well as constant pain and headaches. Apparently Raich was at UCSF to undergo some tests, and was using marijuana via a vaporizer when someone—reportedly a pharmacist—took offense and threatened to “call the Feds” unless she desisted. "The pharmacist said, you can't use cannabis in this hospital," Raich reports. "That's a death sentence." Ironically, UCSF is one of the few teaching hospitals in the US currently researching marijuana’s efficiency in treating cancer and pain patients.

As Raich’s personal care physician testified during that pivotal 2002 court case, she will likely “suffer imminent harm” without marijuana, as she's allergic to most other medications. “Nausea, anorexia resulting in weight loss, risking malnutrition, cachexia, starvation and death constitute harm,” Dr. Frank Lucido told the court. “Angel needs to medicate every two waking hours. If she misses a treatment, it could quickly have dangerous repercussions for her health.” In a statement, UCSF say that their hospital is "a smoke-free campus and this includes medical marijuana… Any particles from vapor and odor could have an impact on other patients and hospital employees.” However as anyone who has used a vaporizer is aware, vaporization causes no discernible second-hand smoke or odor, something you’d reasonably expect UCSF to know.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Tony O'Neill_0.jpg

Tony O'Neill, a regular contributor to The Fix, is the author of several novels, including Digging the VeinDown and Out on Murder Mile and Sick City. He also co-authored the New York Times bestseller Hero of the Underground (with Jason Peter) and the Los Angeles Times bestseller Neon Angel (with Cherie Currie). He lives in New York with his wife and daughter. You can follow Tony on Twitter.