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US IL: Column: Will Congress Have the Guts to Tackle Medical

 
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Torkel
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2005 5:55 pm    Post subject: US IL: Column: Will Congress Have the Guts to Tackle Medical Reply with quote

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US IL: Column: Will Congress Have the Guts to Tackle Medical

URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v05/n913/a04.html
Newshawk: End Marijuana Prohibition: www.mpp.org
Rate this article Votes: 0
Pubdate: Wed, 08 Jun 2005
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2005 Chicago Tribune Company
Contact: ctc-TribLetter@Tribune.com
Website: http://www.chicagotribune.com/


WILL CONGRESS HAVE THE GUTS TO TACKLE MEDICAL MARIJUANA

WASHINGTON -- "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone in Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass," "it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less.'" The same might be said by U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Take, for example, Gonzales vs. Raich, the high court's medicinal marijuana case.

The commerce clause in Article 1 of the Constitution could hardly be more clear in limiting federal power to commerce "among the several states," not within a state.

But in Gonzales vs. Raich, a 6-3 majority has stretched "commerce" to mean just what they choose it to mean--far enough to let the distant feds, not the close-to-the-people state governments, decide whether ailing residents should be allowed to grow their own medicine under a doctor's care.

In the Senate's heated debate over judicial appointments we have constantly heard conservatives argue that judges should lean toward a modest role for the national government. Over the past decade, a conservative Supreme Court coalition under Chief Justice William Rehnquist has rolled back congressional power and elevated "states' rights" in a series of decisions. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court reasserted federal authority in Gonzales vs. Raich on Monday, even in the 11 states that now permit marijuana when recommended by a doctor.

The people in those 11 states have spoken, and the Supreme Court has told them to shut up.

Justice John Paul Stevens' majority opinion stretched the meaning of "commerce" to include anything done in one state that could have "a substantial effect on interstate commerce." And how does the court define "substantial"? Broadly enough to cover just about anything.

"... [P]roduction of the commodity meant for home consumption, be it wheat or marijuana, has a substantial effect on supply and demand in the national market for that commodity," Stevens wrote.

Justice Antonin Scalia, the archest of the high court's arch-conservatives, chimed in, if only to say that Stevens' federal "intrusionism" did not go far enough. "Drugs like marijuana are fungible commodities"; even when "grown at home and possessed for personal use," it is "never more than an instant from the interstate market."

Both opinions sound more like economic theory than day-to-day reality. After all, the medical marijuana market is only a tiny fraction of a state's overall drug traffic.

That very rational point, among others, was made by Justice Clarence Thomas, who cut himself loose from his usual tether to Scalia's world view to raise a clear, compelling and badly needed voice of reason: If the two California women who are the defendants in this case are involved in "interstate commerce," he asked, what in these United States is not "interstate commerce"?

"Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana," Thomas wrote. "If Congress can regulate this under the commerce clause, then it can regulate virtually anything--and the federal government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers."

In other words, keep your federal hands out of matters that pertain only to a particular state and do not infringe on fundamental human rights.

That human-rights point is particularly significant to those African-Americans who are old enough to remember when "states' rights" was offered as a lame excuse to perpetuate racial segregation laws in the South. The 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision properly overruled states' rights that violate fundamental human rights. By contrast, Gonzales vs. Raich ironically overrules states' rights in order to violate a humane right, the right of the sick to treat their own illness. "Our federalist system, properly understood, allows California and a growing number of other states to decide for themselves how to safeguard the health and welfare of their citizens," Thomas writes. Right on.

The good news in Gonzales vs. Raich is that the high court did not overturn any of the existing state medicinal marijuana laws. Stevens' decision also ruled in defiance of Congress and John P. Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, that marijuana does indeed have "therapeutic value." Stevens suggested that the executive branch might reclassify marijuana for medical purposes or that Congress might allow "the laboratory of the states" to decide this matter for themselves.

In fact, Congress is considering two bills, backed mostly by Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans, that could legalize the medicinal use of marijuana at the federal level.

Congress usually kicks such hot-burning issues as marijuana reform over to the courts. This time, the courts have kicked it right back. Congress, as W.C. Fields once said, needs to take the bull by the tail and face the situation. And the public needs to make itself heard.


Peace,
Torkel
_________________
Miller vs U.S. (230 F 2nd 486,489): "The claim and exercise of a Constitutional right cannot be converted into a crime."

Miranda vs Arizona (384 U.S. 436, 125): "Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule-making or legislation which would abrogate them."

HAGANS vs LAVINE (415 US 533 N-3,note 5): "Once JURISDICTION is challenged it must be proven by the Plaintiff."
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Ferre
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2005 6:06 pm    Post subject: PLEASE CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE! Reply with quote

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Pubdate: Fri, 10 Jun 2005
Source: DrugSense Weekly (DSW)
Section: Feature Article
Website: http://www.drugsense.org/current.htm

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE!

The U.S. Supreme Court Puts the Medical Marijuana Issue in Congress' Court.
Urge Your Member of Congress to Vote for the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Medical
Marijuana Amendment!

In response to this week's Supreme Court ruling granting the Justice
Department the authority to prosecute state-authorized medicinal cannabis
patients for violating the federal Controlled Substances Act, members of
the US House of Representatives may vote as early next Tuesday, June 14th,
on an amendment to bar the US Department of Justice (DOJ) from prosecuting
patients who use medical cannabis in compliance with state laws.

Citizens in nine states and the District of Columbia have voted to protect
patients afflicted with HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other
horrible diseases from arrest and prison, and three states have enacted
medical marijuana laws though their state legislatures. National polls
consistently show that around 70% of Americans support medical marijuana
access for seriously ill patients. Yet, sadly, the federal government
continues to raid and arrest these patients.

This important bi-partisan provision, scheduled to be introduced Tuesday by
Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-NY) as an amendment to
the 2005 Justice Department appropriations bill, would prohibit the DOJ and
the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from spending taxpayers' dollars
for the purpose of pursuing "any criminal or civil penalty or remedy
against any person for the production, distribution, or use of marijuana
for medicinal purposes in a state that authorizes that production,
distribution, or use."

Writing for the Court's majority, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens
said that he longs for the day when medicinal cannabis advocates "may be
heard in the halls of Congress." The 2005 Hinchey/Rohrabacher medical
marijuana amendment does just that -- giving Congress the opportunity to go
on record to protect and support the health and safety of patients who use
cannabis therapeutically in compliance with the laws of their state.

Please call and/or e-mail your member of the US House Representatives today
and ask them to vote "yes" in favor of the Hinchey/Rohrabacher medical
marijuana amendment.

The following organizations have on line services to assist you in
contacting your representative. Select the service, please, that best meets
your needs, and act today:

The Drug Policy Alliance:

http://actioncenter.drugpolicy.org/action/index.asp?step=2&item=25197&ms=hp

The Marijuana Policy Project:

http://hinchey.mpp.org/

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

http://capwiz.com/norml2/mail/oneclick_compose/?alertid=7309441

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Officer
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Done bounce
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Fyrefly1
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2005 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, also done!
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Officer
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2005 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And I contacted him again to make sure he knows I'll be voting for his opponent next election.
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worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed
in this state to all humankind - NYS Bill of Rights
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