The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Read those words carefully. They mean something. I am about to write about something that I very rarely discuss in public. My stance on this subject is controversial especially in coming from a semi-conservative person in Texas.
I came across this article in the L.A. Times that has my blood boiling. Apparently going after users of medical marijuana and those who supply them is about to become a top priority for a government that can barely afford to run itself anymore. According to the federal government’s classification system, cannabis has no medical value and a high potential for abuse. This is contrary to the many, many, many studies showing otherwise.
The reason I posted the above two Amendments from the Bill of Rights is because they are what I believe should be the deciding factor on why states should have the right to legalize marijuana for medicinal and even non-medicinal purposes. Of course the Supreme Court of the United States disagrees with me.
In Gonzales v. Raich, the SCOTUS decided that since Congress could ban marijuana for recreational use, then they could also ban it for medicinal use so that people couldn’t use it as a recreational drug. Yeah, anyone with half a brain can see the flaw in this argument. By that same reasoning we should outlaw alcohol because minors might use it. In fact, the ruling gives way to outlawing anything legal simply because someone may use it for illegal purposes.
In United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative, the SCOTUS ruled that since Congress did not include a medical exception in the Controlled Substances Act, then California had no right to legalize marijuana for medical use. They claimed that only Congress and not the courts could make the decision about whether or not there should be an exception. I will explain shortly why that reasoning is invalid in this case.
The Controlled Substances Act is a federal law passed in 1970 that created 5 extremely arbitrary (my opinion) classes for drugs. The reasoning behind it is that Congress can make this law based on the interstate commerce clause in the Constitution (Article 1, section 8). The SCOUTS rulings in both Gonzalez and Oakland points out that only Congress has the right to regulate commerce between states. Unfortunately, this argument falls flat when it comes to states who have legalized marijuana for medicinal usage.
They base this on the idea that having legal marijuana in California would affect prices in other states. Therefor it would have an effect on interstate commerce. The problem there is that marijuana trafficking is illegal. How can you justify banning the legality of something in one place because it will cause price fluctuations in places that it is still illegal? Wouldn’t that mean that Congress has a duty to outlaw gambling at the federal level? After all, odds in Las Vegas have a direct affect on bookies taking illegal bets in New York!
Now, why did I put the 9th and 10th Amendments at the beginning of this post? Well, I believe those are the two Constitutional clauses that really count in this matter. First, the people of California and of 15 other states as well as D.C. have decided that medical marijuana is a right retained by their voters. The 9th Amendment prevents the federal government for usurping their choice. The 10th Amendment explicitly allows those states and the people residing in them the right to make these laws. Drugs in general are never once mentioned in the Constitution and the federal government is damned sure never given any authority over their regulation especially when they are confined within the borders of one state or the other. So long as the marijuana does not cross state lines, they have no vested interest in the matter.
So, that’s my take on the issue. Obama has decided to follow in Bush’s footsteps on this matter. Both Presidents stated that they would not expend federal resources harassing cancer patients. Both back peddled and gave in to pressure from the multi-billion dollar industry that is appropriately called the war on drugs. This is a war that has been declared on the American people by their own government. A good deal of us just go along with it though because we have to protect our children. What a load of crap!
Anyways, I will get off my soapbox now. Any comments or concerns are always welcomed. You can be sure that your opinion will be valued and taken in to consideration. Thank you for reading.