Bad Day for Medical Liberty: US Supreme Court Denies Cannabis Rescheduling

© freshidea - Fotolia.com

© freshidea – Fotolia.com

Depressingly, the first thing the US Supreme Court did on its first Monday was to deny reconsideration of cannabis scheduling.

By refusing to appeal a lower ruling, the court locks in Schedule I (highly dangerous, no medical value) by allowing the DEA to make that decision. Read the gory details at StopTheDrugWar.org. This come out on the same day that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia admits that he fully believes in the devil. His mindset would better fit Spain during the Inquisition than the USA in the 21st century. Yet we are stuck with his rulings.

There seems little chance now that the draconian Schedule I felonizing of cannabis will change, probably for decades to come. After all, it was just over 25 years that DEA law judge Francis L. Young told the truth about marijuana, including the fact that in no way should it be Schedule I. Yet a quarter century later, it still is. During these 25 years 20 million Americans have been unjustly arrested under these cruel laws.

With Schedule I intact,  the DEA and US Attorneys can continue to  jail Americans for decades along with seizing their property for the benefit of the agencies. States may legalize cannabis for medical or personal use all they want but as long as possession of any marijuana by anybody remains a stiff federal offense, the medical potential of cannabis will be blunted. The DEA and NIDA will still have control over research using cannabis, meaning they can continue to block nearly all medical marijuana research in the USA. This is probably the most cruel result.

It will also stifle and delay hemp production and use the USA.

For no good reason, tens of millions of Americans will have to continue to fear their government.

Who now is going to down-schedule or de-schedule  cannabis out of the hands of the DEA?

  • Certainly not the DEA itself. The felonization of cannabis is worth billions to the agency every year, no way they would consider changing it.

  • Barack Obama is highly unlikely to consider this desperately needed change; his presidency has been marked by increasing attacks on medical marijuana dispensaries and he has rejected any change of scheduling.

  • Even after 2016, it is unlikely the new president would make any change. Hillary Clinton has echoed Obama’s hard line. Joe Biden is one of the worst of the drug war criminals, enthusiastically creating the Drug Czar office and supporting harsh and authoritarian programs and policies his entire career. Although some libertarian republicans support ending drug prohibition and defunding the DEA, most republicans are staunch authoritarians who fully cheer and fund the war on drugs.

  • These leaves its to congress to change the scheduling.  Big hope there, huh?  Even if congress was not dysfunctional,  many congresspersons are former prosecutors, drug-war beneficiaries like Senator Jeff  “I love the DEA” Sessions, of the Judiciary Committee. Powerful house dinosaurs like Texas republican Arlen Smith headed off any reduction of federal persecution of medical cannabis in states where legal.

Future Americans will look back at us an wonder how we could have kept such dishonest and cruel laws so long.

Copyright © Don Fitch, 2013

 

 

Justice Steven’s Stifling Stupidity on Gonzales v. Raich

John Paul Stevens

John Paul Stevens

The legacy of retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Steven’s is forever tarnished by his befuddled vote on Gonzales v. Raich in 2005. This case, one of the most important in decades, was decisive in issues of individual liberty versus big government control and was key state’s rights case. Unfortunately, Steven voted with the authoritarian Scalia. The case was decided against medical marijuana consumer Angel Raich and for abhorrent Attorney Generals John Ashcroft and Roberto Gonzales.

To support the government’s case, Justice Stevens had arrive at a bizarrely paradoxical conclusion. The government claimed that the Commerce Clause regulating interstate commerce allowed it to restrict the non-commercial medical use of marijuana inside a state could somehow be defined as commerce between states. As Justice Clarence Thomas was quick to assert, this makes absolutely no sense and was unjustified. But those voting with Stevens and Scalia included Kennedy, and (shamefully) Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer.

Chief Justice Rehnquist, along with O’Conner and Thomas side with patient Angel Raich. Justice Sandra Day O’Conner said:

  • “Relying on Congress’ abstract assertions, the Court has endorsed making it a federal crime to grow small amounts of marijuana in one’s own home for one’s own medicinal use. This overreaching stifles an express choice by some States, concerned for the lives and liberties of their people, to regulate medical marijuana differently.”

Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissenting opinion spoke clearly of the intellectual dishonesty of the government’s case and the far ranging consequences. He wrote, (emphasis mine)

  • “Respondent’s local cultivation and consumption of marijuana is not “Commerce … among the several States.”
  • “Certainly no evidence from the founding suggests that “commerce” included the mere possession of a good or some personal activity that did not involve trade or exchange for value. In the early days of the Republic, it would have been unthinkable that Congress could prohibit the local cultivation, possession, and consumption of marijuana.”
  • If the Federal Government can regulate growing a half-dozen cannabis plants for personal consumption (not because it is interstate commerce, but because it is inextricably bound up with interstate commerce), then Congress’ Article I powers — as expanded by the Necessary and Proper Clause — have no meaningful limits. Whether Congress aims at the possession of drugs, guns, or any number of other items, it may continue to “appropria[te] state police powers under the guise of regulating commerce.”
  • “If the majority is to be taken seriously, the Federal Government may now regulate quilting bees, clothes drives, and potluck suppers throughout the 50 States. This makes a mockery of Madison’s assurance to the people of New York that the “powers delegated” to the Federal Government are “few and defined”, while those of the States are “numerous and indefinite.”

So, tragically, the majority with Stevens and Scalia, decided the federal government could block an American citizen’s right to grow and use a plant substance needed for survival! Few events in recent decades have so shifted power to big federal government while whittling away at state’s rights and denying autonomy and choices of Americans in making their own health care and life decisions.  This was “judicial activism” at its worst.

Even with this blow to the rights of states and restriction of liberty of American citizens, the cause for which Angel Raich fought is flourishing nicely. Angel continues to benefit from the medicinal herb, and medical marijuana is legal in over a dozen states. The tyranny supported by the Raich decision is being overcome by the assertiveness of the American people in their state’s votes, along with a President not pressing the issue.

John Paul Stevens made many good judgments in his long career, but his faulty thinking on Raich forever tarnishes his legacy and left Americans far less free.

Supreme Court of Argentina rules for personal liberty.

The Supreme Court of Argentina has freed the huge country’s citizens from possible imprisonment for possession of cannabis and other drugs. Ruling very rationally that the state has no business in the personal behaviors of its people that present no harm or danger to society. AP reports all seven judges agreed in “declaring the unconstitutionality of prison for private consumption.”

  • The court continued: “Each individual adult is responsible for making decisions freely about their desired lifestyle without state interference. Private conduct is allowed unless it constitutes a real danger or causes damage to property or the rights of others.”

Imagine that, adults — rather than the DEA — responsible for their own decisions.  Private conduct allowed! What quaint concepts, like Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Luckily for liberty in Argentina the country is not saddled with the likes of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In terms of personal freedoms, Scalia, who like to call himself an “originalist,” seems to rely less on the Constitution, more on the Witchs Hammer. The Nixon-appointee has ruled, without exception, for the “drug war exemption to the Bill of Rights.” He invariably adjudicates for the power of the state and for reduction of civil liberties of the citizens. With Scalia on the bench, along with other authoritarians Roberts, Alito and Thomas, Americans can give up any hope for reasoned judgements like that coming from the Supreme Court of Argentina. Cry for me, Argentina. Our Supreme Court does not believe in freedom.

It is ironic that Argentina, know for its “dirty war” of abduction, torture, child stealing and executions in the 1970’s and 1980s should be providing leadership to the USA in 2009 in this key issue of personal liberty and incarceration. The AP report quotes an Argentine leader’s analysis of how the drug war harm maximization evil began:

  • Cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez declared that the ruling brings an end to “the repressive politics invented by the Nixon administration” in the United States, and later adopted by Argentina’s dictators, to imprison drug users as if they were major traffickers.

There was a time, before the war on drugs, when personal liberty was a key American value. Forty years, 20 million cannabis arrests and a quintupling of the prison population later, punishment and incarceration have replaced those American values.

  • The war on drugs is the USA’s own dirty war.