Medical marijuana: Supreme Court gets another one wrong
see: Court Rules Against Pot for Sick People (AP, 6/6/05)
In yet another mistaken decision, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the Federal Government can continue to abuse the Commerce Clause to regulate medical marijuana, overriding states’ laws allowing such use. The Feds can prosecute someone for using marijuana in a way which is specified as legal by state law.
The decision in Gonzales v. Raich is not only a defeat for Federalism (states’ rights) but for logic. The marijuana which the plaintiff was using was home-grown and not purchased from or sold to anyone. It was clearly not involved with any interstate commerce. Yet the court stuck with its insane methodology from decades past, ruling that the use of a product that is involved in interstate commerce anywhere must then always fall under the Commerce Clause.
The majority said that use of home-grown marijuana would effect supply and demand in the national market for the drug. It's truly an outrageous basis for a Supreme Court ruling and an open invitation to Congress to start regulating anything it wants to. Few things put our liberty and property rights at greater risk than this continuing misuse of the Commerce Clause.
It’s rather like arguing that the Feds should be able to prosecute someone for legally driving a car or legally owning a gun because someone else used a car or a gun in a Federal crime.
While I expect big government decisions from Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and the exceptionally disappointing Souter, it was particularly distressing to see Justice Scalia going along with the majority opinion in this case. The dissents were by Justices O’Connor, Rehnquist, and Thomas (who split from his role-model, Scalia, for the second time in as many weeks. In the interstate wine shipment case, Scalia ruled for Federalism and logic and Thomas against it.)
The Supreme Court continues its unfortunate and dangerous trend of “passive activism” by upholding laws which are clearly unconstitutional. On the rare occasion that they get it right lately (such as with interstate wine shipments) the vote is too close for comfort. The biggest case before the Court now, in my opinion, is Kelo v. New London, a major test of eminent domain. The Supremes’ recent performances give me little reason for optimism. It seems that liberty continues to recede and property rights continue to weaken as respect for the Constitution fades.
[As a general matter, our "war on drugs" is absolutely out of control, filling our jails with minor non-violent offenders and adding to the profit which major drug dealers earn and thus the violence they'd be willing to use to protect their business. It's time to decriminalize marijuana, and I say this as someone who has never tried marijuana or any other illegal drug.]
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