Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.

-C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Medical Marijuana

On this day in 1776, Richard Henry Lee, patriot, presented to the Continental Congress the “Lee Resolution,” which was the motion to declare independence from Great Britain. I wonder what Mr. Lee, as the brains behind the 10th Amendment, would make of the latest invocation of the Interstate Commerce Clause.


Of the decision, Justice Stevens said there are other legal options for patients, "but perhaps even more important than these legal avenues is the democratic process, in which the voices of voters allied with these respondents may one day be heard in the halls of Congress."

As a pretty consistent liberal, I don’t have any ideological issues with this ruling in terms of its favoring national over local laws. Even so, to invoke “interstate commerce” to regulate private cultivation, possession and use of a substance seems a little bit of a stretch. I’m mainly a pragmatist on the subject of states' rights. I’m for national healthcare, if only because it doesn’t make much sense to have 50 mini-healthcares. For the most part, states' rights have been invoked when the state in question is doing something particularly revolting. But, seeing as our country is so large and people’s needs are somewhat different depending on where they live, I don’t think that the rights of the states to pass laws that make sense for their citizens should be abridged on mere principle. After all, the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does in fact exist.

What practical purpose does this decision serve other than to reinforce the feel-good (how ironic) pronouncement that “drugs are bad?” If the justices, acting as though their hands were tied, ruled the way they did because existing national laws against marijuana possession trumped the local ones, it’s not exactly like they couldn’t have just ruled the other way, saying that the national prohibition was unconstitutional. But perhaps they weren’t ready for such a sweeping decision a la Roe v. Wade? Perhaps wherefore Justice Stevens' curious call to legislative action.

Still, I wonder what Justice Stevens thinks happened in Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and California? What about the halls of their Congresses? Did the medical marijuana legislation fall from the sky?

P.S. I'll make a confession here. I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. But, in any case, this seems like one of those times when allegiance to a certain ideology may have got the better of common sense.

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