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Monday, June 06, 2005

What Were They Smoking? 

Via Zemblan patriots J.D. and M.S.: Glaucoma and cancer patients? You may want to stash your medical marijuana near a toilet so you can flush it quickly if the doorbell rings:
The Supreme Court ruled today that federal agents may raid the homes of Californians who use medical marijuana, holding that the strict federal drug laws prevail over the state's liberalized marijuana laws . . . .

Under the court's ruling, federal drugs agents, U.S. prosecutors and U.S. judges may arrest, prosecute and punish people who grow or use marijuana, even in such states as California where it is legal.

However, state and local police need not assist in these efforts. And because most law enforcement is carried out by state and local officials, the liberalized medical marijuana laws will continue to have practical significance . . . .

The latest case that reached the high court began when federal agents seized and destroyed marijuana that had been grown at home for use by two northern California women. Angel Raich and Diane Monson had painful ailments that they and their doctors said were relieved only by the use of cannabis.

They sued to challenge the authority of federal agents over their home-grown marijuana. Their lawyers relied on the Supreme Court's recent rulings that limited the power of Congress. In 1995, for example, the high court struck down the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act on the theory that gun possession was not commerce and therefore went beyond Congress's authority to regulate interstate commerce . . . .

The court's leading liberals, including Justices Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, joined the majority that sided with the Bush administration and against the marijuana users.

They said Congress sought to "extinguish" the market in marijuana. "One need not a degree in economics to understand why a nationwide exemption for the vast quantity of marijuana locally cultivated for persons' use...may have a substantial impact on the interstate market for this extraordinarily popular substance," Stevens said.
We are still trying to wrap the imperial melon around the logic of that ruling. As we understand it, the presence of guns on the playground does not involve interstate commerce and is not, therefore, a proper matter for federal regulation. However, the presence a lone marijuana plant on a cancer patient's back porch does, and therefore is -- because it shrinks the market for street dope? -- resulting in a glut which might force dealers to hustle their overstock across state lines?

Someone please tell us that we've got it wrong before we do a Cronenberg.
Meanwhile, three of [the Court's] more conservative members — Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Clarence Thomas — dissented.

The Constitution should be read to "protect historical spheres of state sovereignty from excessive federal encroachment," O'Connor said.

"This case exemplifies the role of states as laboratories," she added, saying their voters should be given the freedom to set their own laws regarding "the health, safety and welfare of their citizens."
Here is the place where we embattled blue-state denizens now find ourselves: utterly dependent upon the kindness of wingnut judges who may, on occasion, out of a deep antipathy toward the very notion of centralized government, allow us a measure of local self-determination. We worry that some of Mr. Bush's judicial nominees may not be far enough to the right. Forget abortion as a litmus test: how do they feel about state's rights??

UPDATE: Administration talking head on the CBS Nightly News: Why should there be medical marijuana? There's no medical crack. There's no medical methamphetamine. There's no medical heroin.

Our esteemed colleague Gordon of Alternate Brain: Wrong again, asshole.

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