Third Party & Independents Archives

Another Blow to State Sovereignty

Today the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 against Angel Raich, finding that Federal authorities may prosecute individuals who use medical marijuana, despite states’ decisions to legalize marijuana for medicinal purpose.

Angel lives in California, a state which overwhelmingly approved the medical use of marijuana nearly a decade ago. In seeking to overturn the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in favor of Angel and others who legally use medicinal marijuana, John Ashcroft is directly attacking state sovereignty.

Angel has a collection of maladies, including allergies to most all of the pharmaceuticals which can help her conditions. She argues on her website that marijuana not only allows her to live a more normal life without having to be wheelchair bound, but it also keeps her alive. Although I can find nothing supporting this claim explicitly, I can find nothing against it either. If it is indeed the case that marijuana is keeping Angel alive, it is truly sad to see such a fight from the government to deny this woman her life.

Among the absurdities surrounding this case is the argument from the government side which attempts to persuade the Supreme Court that medical marijuana affects interstate commerce. (The classic means by which the federal government has usurped control of the states.) They argue that medical use of home-grown marijuana decreases demand for illegal street marijuana, thereby lowering the price, and making it more accessible. This cuts against the government's goal of driving the price up through prohibition, and the government is therefore justified in its actions because medical use of marijuana interferes with federal efforts to disrupt interstate commerce in illegal drugs. This argument is absurd, of course, since price not only relies on supply, but also demand. In light of this, the government ought to be encouraging drug use in order to raise prices, and make illegal drugs more inaccessible.

This ruling comes along with the introduction of H.R. 1528, a bill which supposedly 'protects America's most vulnerable'. If passed, this bill will force individuals to inform on family members and friends or face a minimum of two years in prison. This too has the potential to override states' decisions to legalize or de-criminalize marijuana. But that's not the only reason to fight this bill. Under the pending legislation, not reporting the following situations within 24 hours would merit a prison sentence between two and ten years under H.R. 1528:

* You see someone you know pass a joint to a 20-year old college student.

* Your cousin mentions that he bought Ecstasy for some of his college friends.

* You find out that your brother, who has kids, recently bought a small amount of marijuana to share with his wife.

* Your substance-abusing daughter recently begged her boyfriend to find her some drugs even though they're both in drug treatment.

You don't even have to have witnessed any of these situations. If you simply hear of them, you will be required by law to not only inform the police, but also give full assistance to authorities in the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of the people involved, or else serve jail time of up to ten years.

Please join me in calling upon your representative to fight for sensible drug policy, and vote against this odious bill. You can send a fax to your representative quickly and easily here.

Posted by Andrew Parker at June 6, 2005 5:13 PM