The biggest current obstacles to medical marijuana are President Obama and the progressives on the Supreme Court
I’m a libertarian, and I think that both medical and recreational marijuana should be legal. That being said, I myself have never smoked marijuana, or tobacco, or been drunk, or used any illegal drug. I do, however, think that it’s completely ridiculous to put non-violent people in jail for using mind altering substances. And I especially detest the idea of the government preventing people from using a medical treatment which has been proven in scientific studies to be beneficial for patients who are suffering from AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and other medical conditions. I voted for Ron Paul for President in 2008, and I will be voting for Gary Johnson in 2012. The ridiculous “war on drugs” has caused the U.S. incarceration rate to skyrocket in recent decades – to the highest rate of any country in the entire world. Ending the “war on drugs” is my #1 most important political issue.
During the Great Depression, while millions of Americans were hungry, the progressives who controlled the federal government passed laws that were deliberately designed to increase the price of food. For example, they passed a law that limited how much wheat farmers could grow, with the deliberate intent of raising its price. The people who supported this policy referred to themselves as “progressives,” and they had control of the House, the Senate, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court.
A farmer named Roscoe Filburn had grown more wheat than he was legally allowed to grow. However, he never sold the wheat, and it never crossed state lines.
However, even though he never sold the wheat, and even though it never crossed state lines, the progressive majority on the Supreme Court still claimed that his growing of this extra wheat constituted “interstate commerce.”
Of course this ruling is absurd. He did not sell the wheat. The wheat never crossed state lines. Nevertheless, it was ruled as being “interstate commerce.”
This 1942 ruling, called Wickard v. Filburn, massively expanded the power of the federal government. What it meant was that pretty much anything could be considered “interstate commerce,” and that there were no longer any real limits on federal power. Progressives cheered this ruling – conservatives and libertarians were very critical of it.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Because of the 10th amendment, when the federal government had wanted to outlaw alcohol in the early 20th century, it had to pass the 18th amendment, which gave the federal government the power to outlaw alcohol. Without the 18th amendment, the 10th amendment would have prevented the federal government from outlawing alcohol. The 18th amendment was ratified in 1919, and was later repealed by the 21st amendment in 1933. During the time that alcohol was illegal, it was controlled by organized crime, and was associated with murder, bribing of public officials, and contaminated “bathtub gin” that caused its drinkers to go blind, and sometimes even killed them. In many ways, it was extremely similar to today’s “war on drugs.”
As I said above, in 1996, California legalized medical marijuana, and the 10th amendment supported its right to do so.
A few years later, in California, a woman named Angel Raich was using medical marijuana, which her doctor had deemed necessary in order to save her from suffering from excruciating and life-threatening pain. According to California law, Raich’s medical marijuana was completely legal.
In addition, the medical marijuana that Raich was using was home grown – it had never crossed state lines, and no money had changed hands. So, according to the 10th amendment, it should not have been subject to federal control.
However, even though Raich’s medical marijuana never crossed state lines, and was never sold for money, the United States Supreme court still ruled that Raich’s medical marijuana constituted “interstate commerce.” This ruling, which took place in 2005, is called Gonzales v. Raich. The precedent cited for this ruling is the 1942 case Wickard v. Filburn. Other than the fact that one case was about wheat and the other was about medical marijuana, the two cases are identical.
Thus, the 2005 ruling against medical marijuana is based on policies which were enacted and supported by progressives during the New Deal.
And if we look at how the different Supreme Court justices sided in the 2005 ruling, this becomes even more clear. In the 2005 ruling, every progressive justice on the Supreme court – every one of them, without exception – voted against medical marijuana. They did this – not because they have anything against medical marijuana per se – but instead, because they did not want to overturn Wickard v. Filburn.
So who were the dissenters in the 2005 medical marijuana ruling? The dissenters – those who supported states’ rights on the issue of medical marijuana – were justices O’Connor, Rehnquist, and Thomas.
Imagine that – all the progressives on the court ruled against medical marijuana, while three conservative justices voted in favor of it. Of course it wasn’t the medical marijuana per se that they were ruling on – instead, it was the states’ right to make their own decision on medical marijuana that they were truly ruling on.
Flash forward a few more years. Barack Obama is running for President of the United States. In May 2008, Obama campaign spokesperson Ben LaBolt said that Obama would end DEA raids on medical marijuana in states where it’s legal. I cheered Obama for this. I said to myself that if Obama kept this promise, he would be my favorite president so far during my lifetime. (I was born in 1971).
Also in 2008, Obama said that he supported the
“basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs”
and that he was
“not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws.”
Again, this was fantastic news, and I looked forward to this taking place.
In November 2008, Barack Obama was elected President. He was inaugurated in January 2009.
However, in February 2010, DEA agents raided a medical marijuana grower in Highlands Ranch in Colorado, a state where medical marijuana is legal.
Also in February 2010, DEA agents raided a medical marijuana dispensary in Culver City in California, a state where medical marijuana is legal.
In July 2010, the DEA raided at least four medical marijuana growers in San Diego, California.
Also in July 2010, the DEA raided a medical marijuana facility in Covelo, California.
Then in September 2010, the DEA conducted raids on at least five medical marijuana dispensaries in Las Vegas, Nevada, where medical marijuana is legal.
In 2011, the DEA conducted raids on medical marijuana in Seattle, Washington, West Hollywood, California, and Helena, Montana, all places where it is legal.
In April 2012, the DEA carried out several raids on medical marijuana in Oakland, California.
In February 2012, Rolling Stone magazine wrote that Obama’s war against medical marijuana went
“far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush.”
In April 2012, Mother Jones magazine wrote:
“The president campaigned on the promise that he’d stop federal raids on medical marijuana operations that were in compliance with state laws, a vow that Attorney General Eric Holder repeated after the election. But then the Obama administration raided more than 100 dispensaries in its first three years and is now poised to outpace the Bush administration’s crackdown record.”
In May 2012, the Washington Post wrote:
“Obama has become more hostile to medical marijuana patients than any president in U.S. history.”
In May 2012, U.S. Congressperson Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said she had
about Obama’s forced closure of five medical marijuana facilities in Pelosi’s congressional district.
In April 2012, commenting on Obama’s crackdown on medical marijuana, U.S. Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) said:
“I’m very disappointed… They look more like the Bush administration than the Clinton administration.”
In July 2012, federal prosecutors filed civil forfeiture actions against Harborside Health Center, a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, CA, which claims to be the world’s largest, and which claims to serve more than 100,000 medical marijuana patients.
In May 2012, ABC News reported that during Obama’s youth, he often smoked large quantities of recreational marijuana. I’m not upset that Obama did that – but I am upset by his hypocrisy. His marijuana wasn’t even medical – it was recreational. And yet now, he is taking large scale, widespread action to prevent people with AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and other illnesses, who have prescriptions from their doctors, from using their prescription medicine. This makes me so angry.
In April 2012, federal agents raided Oaksterdam University, an educational institution in Oakland, CA, which teaches people about medical marijuana.
In April 2012, federal agents raided a medical marijuana facility which had been serving 1,500 patients near Lake Elsinore, CA.
In June 2012, the Obama administration filed asset-forfeiture lawsuits against two landlords who rented their buildings to medical marijuana stores in Santa Fe Springs, CA. The Obama administration also sent warning letters which threatened similar legal action to dozens of other, nearby landlords.
During the first seven months of 2012, the DEA shut down 40 medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado, all of which had been operating in compliance with state and local law.