Medical Pot Users' Future in Hands of Top Court 

Medical Pot Users' Future in Hands of Top Court 
Posted by CN Staff on May 29, 2005 at 08:56:53 PT
By Alicia Caldwell, Denver Post Staff Writer
Source: Denver Post 
Colorado and 10 other states allow medical marijuana. The Supreme Court will decide if a federal ban trumps state laws. Robert Melamede's guidelines for better living go something like this: eat right, exercise and use a little marijuana. The biology department chairman at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is among the state's 625 registered legal users of marijuana for medical reasons. He says it eases the pain of his spinal arthritis. 
Melamede can't imagine living without it. But his fate and that of legal users in Colorado and 10 other states could be affected by a U.S. Supreme Court case from California that will determine whether a federal ban on the drug trumps state laws allowing medical marijuana. Their decision - expected in the next month - may redefine the limits of congressional power under the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. Either way, the decision is expected to revive debate about the medicinal legitimacy of marijuana use and the social implications of legalizing what law enforcement officials call a "gateway" drug. In Colorado, federal law enforcement authorities said the decision will determine whether they can prosecute medical pot producers. Bill Leone, Colorado's acting U.S. attorney, declined to say whether his office would pursue medical marijuana growers who have had their plants seized but thus far haven't been charged criminally. "I can't comment on ongoing cases," he said. "We'll follow the law, whatever it is." A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor based in Denver called medical marijuana a ploy by those who want to legalize the drug. He said his agency does not target sick and dying people but carefully evaluates whether growers are trafficking in the drug. "This whole medical marijuana thing is a scam," said Bill Weinman, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor based in Denver. "You don't smoke your medicine." Police contend the medical marijuana exception allowing ill people to have a half-dozen plants has led to outlandish finds. Chart: Article: Denver Post (CO)Author: Alicia Caldwell, Denver Post Staff Writer Published: Sunday, May 29, 2005 Copyright: 2005 The Denver Post CorpWebsite: openforum CannabisNews Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #16 posted by charmed quark on May 30, 2005 at 14:21:05 PT
Wickard v. Filburn
afterburner et al. - I agree with your statements about the difference. In my opinion, the Interstate Commerce Clause is about promoting smooth interstate commerce, not regulating or preventing illegal substances. I don't even think the FDA regulating and DEA scheduling of drugs is legal if the states don't want to be part of this system. But the courts have ruled the feds have an interest in controlling illegal interstate commerce to promote the "general well being" ,or some such, of the country.I've noticed that the current Supremes often go for states' rights when it comes to business freedom, but rule against states' rights when it comes to personal liberty. So they probably wouldn't Ok a law like Wickard v. Filburn, but certainly see willing to allow the feds to beat up cannabis patients.We will see. I can only hope for the best.Even if they rule against the states, it doesn't mean the state laws are invalid. Just that the feds can continue to prosecute medical users while the states don't. So it really shouldn't change things much from the way they are now. But I fear it will make it very difficult to get new state initiatives passed for medical cannabis. People will argue that Federal law "trumps" state law, so they shouldn't pass a state law in conflict with the feds. Simple not true, but it will be used as ammunition against these initiatives.-CQ
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Comment #15 posted by afterburner on May 30, 2005 at 09:59:36 PT
Another Difference
Wickard v. Filburn was made during the heyday of the New Deal. We now live under Compassionate Conservatism. US Supreme Court decisions are *supposed* to be above politics, but ...And Filburn was a professional farmer.
WICKARD v. FILBURN, 317 US 111 (1942)
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Comment #14 posted by jose melendez on May 30, 2005 at 09:58:10 PT
opposite regulatory
I think that in Wickard v. Filburn, the farmer was feeding not only his family, but the cows and chickens with grain in excess of a quota. Of course, I'm confident that the marijuana monopoly status quo is unlawful, as the quota is anything larger than zero unless you are operating your business under the sole license available to grow or distribute cannabis, with approval from NIDA/ONDCP/PDFA/DEA/FDA/Merck/Pfizer/Bayer et al, and your name is Mahmoud.Most certainly, Solicitor General Clement did  argue* before the Supreme Court (under OATH) in Raich that allowing legal marijuana would substantially effect an estimated $10.5 billion domestic market in illicit interstate cannabis commerce. Here is some background, from my limited understanding and research skills: - - -from:" Whether the subject of the regulation in question was 'production,' 'consumption,' or 'marketing' is, therefore, not material for purposes of deciding the question of federal power before us. That an activity is of local character may help in a doubtful case to determine whether Congress intended to reach it.... But even if appellee's activity be local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce and this irrespective of whether such effect is what might at some earlier time have been defined as 'direct' or 'indirect.' "also, from: Wickard v. Filburn: Court held a federally mandated Act establishing quotas on wheat harvests (to drive down wheat prices) was in fact violated when a farmer exceeded his quota to provide food for his animals. Court said the Act, which on its face, is on a national scale, still holds under its power those activities which a person who is part of the agricultural chain violates the Act as well. Court held the amount was trivial, but still applied. here's something from the same document that I did not understand, but may be a clue: ". . . now the Court has transplanted a rational basis theory with "a new criterion of review," which has no precedent to support it. It's okay to say the enumeration of powers implies that other powers are withheld. The majority's view that a certain category of powers are beyond Commerce Clause power makes no sense. This is a textual misapplication of Commerce Clause, as the Court once again is going back to the days of Wickard and making a distinction between commercial and non-commercial activity. " - - -* from google's cache of JUSTICE KENNEDY: If we rule for the Respondents in this case, do you think the street price of marijuana would go up or down in California? MR. CLEMENT: I would be speculating, Justice Kennedy, but I think the price would go down. And I think that what -- and that, in a sense, is consistent with the government's position, which is to say, when the government thinks that something is dangerous, it tries to prohibit it. Part of the effort of prohibiting it is going to lead to a black market, where the prohibition actually would force the price up.(snip)JUSTICE GINSBURG: But, as Justice O'Connor brought out earlier, all those cases -- Wickard, Perez - they all involved a commercial enterprise. And, here, we're told this is different, because nobody is buying anything, nobody is selling anything. MR. CLEMENT: Well, with respect, Justice Ginsburg, I think the whole point of the Wickard case was to extend rationales that it applied recently to commerce to activity that the Court described as economic, but not commercial. And I think the production and distribution and possession of marijuana is economic in the same way that the production of wheat was in the Wickard case. JUSTICE SOUTER: But you're -- no, I was going to -- your whole point, I take it, is that the two particular patients in this case are simply -- simply cannot be taken, for our purposes, as representative in the fact that they are getting the marijuana by, I think, growing it themselves or being given it. You're saying, you cannot take that fact as a fact from which to generalize in deciding this case. MR. CLEMENT: That's exactly right, Justice Souter, and that is the logic, not just of me, but of this Court's cases, in cases like Darby and Wickard and Wirtz and Perez. And I point to the Wickard case, in particular, only because it, too, involves a non commercial enterprise or a non-commercial production of -JUSTICE O'CONNOR: Well, I do take issue with that. As I read the record in Wickard, it involved a small farmer. A portion of his wheat went on the interstate market. It also was fed to cattle, which, in  turn, went on the interstate market. He used some of it himself, but part of it was commercial. I think Wickard can be distinguished on the facts. MR. CLEMENT: Well, Justice O'Connor, it could be -- I mean, any case can be distinguished on the facts, of course, but I think what's important is, this Court, in Wickard, itself, recognized that the case was -- it was only interesting because a portion of the regulated wheat involved wheat that was going to be consumed on the farm. And -JUSTICE O'CONNOR: The other portion is a matter of [inaudible] interstate commerce. MR. CLEMENT: Well, that's true, Justice O'Connor, but this Court, basically, in its opinion, Justice Jackson, for the Court, put aside -- to one side all of the grain that was going to go in interstate commerce, since that's easy under our existing precedents. This case is only interesting, he said, because it involves wheat that's going to be consumed on the farm. And he specifically talked about both the wheat that would be fed to the animals, but also the wheat that would be consumed by the family. And what he said is, the intended disposition of the particular wheat wasn't clear from the record of the case. And, by that, I take him to mean that it wasn't relevant to the Court's analysis in upholding  the Agricultural Adjustment Act to the wheat at issue there. And it's important to recognize that the way the Agricultural Adjustment Act worked is, it applied to all the wheat that was grown in excess of the quota, and so it applied to the wheat that was used by the family for consumption of their own bread. And, nonetheless, this Court upheld that as a valid Commerce Clause regulation. And so I think, by parity of reasoning, all of the marijuana that's at issue and covered by the Controlled Substances Act, whether it's lawful under state law, whether it's involved in a market transaction or not, is fairly within the Congress' Commerce Clause -JUSTICE KENNEDY: And is -MR. CLEMENT: -- authority. (snip)JUSTICE STEVENS: Do you think there could be any state of facts on which a judicial tribunal could disagree with the finding of Congress that there's no acceptable medical use? Say they had a -- say there was a judicial hearing on which they made a contrary finding. Would we have to ignore that? Would we have to follow the congressional finding or the judicial finding if that happened? MR. CLEMENT: Well, it depends on the exact hypothetical you have in mind. I think the -- the judicial finding that I think would be appropriate, and this Court would not have to ignore in any way, is a finding by the D.C. Circuit that, in a particular case where there's a rescheduling effort before the FDA, that the underlying judgement of the FDA refusing to reschedule is invalid, arbitrary, capricious. That's the way to go after the finding that marijuana is a Schedule I substance without a valid medical use in treatment.
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on May 30, 2005 at 08:40:45 PT
charmed quark 
You're right but there is a difference. Cannabis isn't a commodity that is like Wheat because it's illegal. No one legally can make money from growing Cannabis like Wheat. I am very worried but I just can't give up hope.
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Comment #12 posted by charmed quark on May 30, 2005 at 07:51:01 PT
Interstate commerce
The Supremes have already decided that interstate commerce is impacted by a farmer growing wheat on his farm and feeding all the wheat to his own livestock and family, with no wheat ever leaving the farm. After all, if he grows his own wheat he is impacting interstate commerce because otherwise he would have to buy his wheat, and some of that wheat might come from other states. At some level, all actions impact all other actions, and some of those actions impact interstate commerce.They decided the feds can regulate this behavior. In my opinion, this implies that the feds can therefore regulate and control all behaviors. So I don't have high hopes for their decision on state medical laws.-CQ
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Comment #11 posted by ekim on May 30, 2005 at 07:31:29 PT
Denver Post tell the readers about LEAP
Jun 2 05 Independent Colorado Springs Weekly Newspaper 12:00 AM Howard Wooldridge Colorado Springs Colorado USA 
 The Independent Colorado Springs Weekly Newspaper prints an interview with Board Member Howard Wooldridge regarding the failure of America's war on drugs. The interview was recorded by reporter Dan Wilcock on May 25th with the help of Independent photographer Collan Fitzpartick. Visit for more information and follow Howard on his cross country journey at Jun 3 05 Evergreen Rotary 07:00 AM Howard Wooldridge Golden Colorado USA 
 Members of the Evergreen Rotary welcome Board Member Howard Wooldridge and his horse Misty for breakfast. During this time, Howard will be discussing his cross country journey to spread the word about America's failed war on drugs. Follow Howard and Misty's trek at Jun 7 05 Littleton Rotary 12:00 PM Howard Wooldridge Littleton Colorado USA 
 Board Member Howard Wooldridge lunches with members of the Littleton Rotary to discuss issues related to the failures of drug prohbition. Jun 7 05 Greeley Golden K Kiwanis 09:30 AM Howard Wooldridge Greeley Colorado USA 
 Members of the Greeley Golden K Kiwanis welcome Board Member Howard Wooldridge for discussion of issues related to the failure of drug prohbition. Jun 7 05 NORML for Boulder 07:00 PM Howard Wooldridge Boulder Colorado USA 
 No one is more normal or bolder than Board Member Howard Wooldridge when he meets with members of the NORML for Boulder organization. Howard will be discussing his cross country journey and efforts that LEAP is pursuing to end the failed war on drugs, as well as specific issues that affect the great state of Colorado. This event is open to the public and will be held at the Boulder Library. For a map to the library, visit Follow Howard on his journey at Jun 8 05 Boulder Flatirons Rotary 07:00 AM Howard Wooldridge Boulder Colorado USA 
 As he continues his cross country tour, Board Member Howard Wooldridge stops to visit with members of the Boulder Flatirons Rotary to discuss issues such as mandatory minimum sentences and the cost of lives and dollars wasted on the war on drugs. Jun 8 05 Denver Kiwanis 12:00 PM Howard Wooldridge Denver Colorado USA 
 While making his way across the country, Board Member Howard Wooldridge stops to talk to members of the Denver Kiwanis about the failures of drug prohbition. Follow Howard on his tour at: Jun 9 05 Denver Rotary 12:00 PM Howard Wooldridge Denver Colorado USA 
 The Denver Rotary welcomes Board Member Howard Wooldridge for lunch and discussion of the failure of America's war on drugs.
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Comment #10 posted by Toker00 on May 30, 2005 at 06:06:01 PT
I STILL don't get it...
"This whole medical marijuana thing is a scam," said Bill Weinman, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor based in Denver. "You don't smoke your medicine."Yes, I do. I prefer making my OWN decisions when it comes to medication. If I can self-medicate with natural medicine, suffering little if ANY side-effects, I will. How can "they" force me to take only FDA,DEA approved manufactured medicine with enormous danger from side-effects when I can grow a plant that relieves many stress-related symptoms and disease related symptoms simply by putting it in a paper or bowl and smoking it? Since the beginning of manufactured drugs, people have been getting sicker and dieing, not from injesting natural remedies, but from injesting manufactured poison powders and pills. How are these medications taken? Orally, intraveniously, or stuck up your rectum. When taken this way, much damage is done. Where are the people damaged by smoking their medicine? Where are they?!?Peace. Legalize, then Revolutionize!(medicine)(energy)(nutrition) 
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Comment #9 posted by mayan on May 30, 2005 at 05:51:26 PT
Supreme Court
Enough stalling already. It's time for some justice. 
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Comment #8 posted by billos on May 30, 2005 at 03:36:16 PT
I see that "Doctor Weinman" has spoken.
"This whole medical marijuana thing is a scam," said Bill Weinman, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor based in Denver. "You don't smoke your medicine." If you don't swallow something, spread it on your skin, stick a needle in your arm, radiate energy through your body, or insert something in the rectum, IT'S JUST NOT MEDICINE ! ! ! ! ! !
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on May 29, 2005 at 16:39:08 PT
Great letter, Reykr! 
Letters like that are one of our greatest weapons in fighting the disinformation of the prohibitionists.Hope it gets ink. Let us know if it does.
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Comment #6 posted by jose melendez on May 29, 2005 at 14:40:38 PT
DEA caught lying again: for pay, profits?
A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor based in Denver called medical marijuana a ploy* by those who want to legalize the drug. He said his agency does not target sick and dying people but carefully evaluates whether growers are trafficking in the drug."This whole medical marijuana thing is a scam,"** said Bill Weinman, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor*** based in Denver. Psst, Bill, you are either a liar, or a crook: Cannabinoid receptor as a novel target for the treatment of prostate cancer.Sarfaraz S, Afaq F, Adhami VM, Mukhtar H.Department of Dermatology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.Cannabinoids, the active components of Cannabis sativa Linnaeus (marijuana) and their derivatives have received renewed interest in recent years due to their diverse pharmacologic activities such as cell growth inhibition, anti-inflammatory effects and tumor regression. Here we show that expression levels of both cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, are significantly higher in CA-human papillomavirus-10 (virally transformed cells derived from adenocarcinoma of human prostate tissue), and other human prostate cells LNCaP, DUI45, PC3, and CWR22Rnu1 than in human prostate epithelial and PZ-HPV-7 (virally transformed cells derived from normal human prostate tissue) cells. WIN-55,212-2 (mixed CB1/CB2 agonist) treatment with androgen-responsive LNCaP cells resulted in a dose- (1-10 micromol/L) and time-dependent (24-48 hours) inhibition of cell growth, blocking of CB1 and CB2 receptors by their antagonists SR141716 (CB1) and SR144528 (CB2) significantly prevented this effect. Extending this observation, we found that WIN-55,212-2 treatment with LNCaP resulted in a dose- (1-10 micromol/L) and time-dependent (24-72 hours) induction of apoptosis (a), decrease in protein and mRNA expression of androgen receptor (b), decrease in intracellular protein and mRNA expression of prostate-specific antigen (c), decrease in secreted prostate-specific antigen levels (d), and decrease in protein expression of proliferation cell nuclear antigen and vascular endothelial growth factor (e). Our results suggest that WIN-55,212-2 or other non-habit-forming cannabinoid receptor agonists could be developed as novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of prostate cancer. Endocannabinoids and food intake: newborn suckling and appetite regulation in adulthood.Fride E, Bregman T, Kirkham TC.Department of Behavioral Sciences, College of Judea and Samaria, Ariel, Israel. fride appetite-stimulating effects of the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa) have been known since ancient times, and appear to be effected through the incentive and rewarding properties of foods. Investigations into the biological basis of the multiple effects of cannabis have yielded important breakthroughs in recent years: the discovery of two cannabinoid receptors in brain and peripheral organ systems, and endogenous ligands (endocannabinoids) for these receptors. These advances have greatly increased our understanding of how appetite is regulated through these endocannabinoid receptor systems. The presence of endocannabinoids in the developing brain and in maternal milk have led to evidence for a critical role for CB1 receptors in oral motor control of suckling during neonatal development. The endocannabinoids appear to regulate energy balance and food intake at four functional levels within the brain and periphery: (i) limbic system (for hedonic evaluation of foods), (ii) hypothalamus and hindbrain (integrative functions), (iii) intestinal system, and (iv) adipose tissue. At each of these levels, the endocannabinoid system interacts with a number of better known molecules involved in appetite and weight regulation, including leptin, ghrelin, and the melanocortins. Therapeutically, appetite stimulation by cannabinoids has been studied for several decades, particularly in relation to cachexia and malnutrition associated with cancer, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or anorexia nervosa. The recent advances in cannabinoid pharmacology may lead to improved treatments for these conditions or, conversely, for combating excessive appetite and body weight, such as CB1 receptor antagonists as antiobesity medications. In conclusion, the exciting progress in the understanding of how the endocannabinoid CB receptor systems influence appetite and body weight is stimulating the development of therapeutic orexigenic and anorectic agents. Furthermore, the role of cannabinoid CB1 receptor activation for milk suckling in newborns may open new doors toward understanding nonorganic failure-to-thrive in infants, who display growth failure without known organic cause.* What Are the Statutes Of Limitations?Under the False Claims Act, an action must be filed within the later of the following two time periods: 1) six years from the date of the violation of the Act; or 2) three years after the government knows or should have known about the violation, but in no event longer than ten years after the violation of the Act. (One Circuit Court has interpreted the second provision as requiring that the action be filed not later than three years after the qui tam plaintiff rather than the government knows, or should have known about the violation.) DRUG DEVELOPMENT POLICY   Like controlled substances, cannabinoids developed for medical use encounter a gauntlet of public health regulatory controls administered by two federal agencies: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the U.S. Department of Justice. The FDA regulates human testing and the introduction of new drugs into the marketplace, whereas the DEA determines the schedule of and establishes production quotas for drugs with potential for abuse to prevent their diversion to illicit channels. The DEA also authorizes registered physicians to prescribe controlled substances. Some drugs, such as marijuana, are labeled Schedule I in the Controlled Substance Act, and this adds considerable complexity and expense to their clinical evaluation.It is important to point out that Schedule I status does not necessarily apply to all cannabinoids.**How could Sativex cannabis extract, a controlled dose of natural cannabinoids extracted from plants, have unique, safe medical value in the eyes of the government, but the whole plant has no medical value? This contradiction is one reason Sativex approval in Canada is seen as another piece of evidence to support the Coalition's claim that US medical regulators are ignoring science and due process by continuing to claim that marijuana is not medicine, and by continuing to have cannabis labeled as a dangerous Schedule One drug.*** from: Penalties Because the calculation of penalties depends on the number of *false claims presented to the government, the definition of a claim is often a critical aspect of litigation under the False Claims Act. In general, each separate bill, voucher, or other payment demand is a separate claim. Often the government will supply a standard form for requesting payment, and each such form submitted by the defendant will be treated as a claim for calculating penalties. Moreover, when a contract was procured by fraud, each demand for payment under the contract is a false claim, even if the contract is perfectly performed. When the definition of a claim is uncertain, the court should look at the alleged scheme and determine whether the document has the practical purpose and effect of inducing the government to make a payment.  For example, when a doctor submitted forms that listed codes identifying various services provided to a single Medicare patient, the court found that each form constituted a separate claim because the doctor calculated the total amount due on each form, and the government used that calculation when it issued payment. In a Social Security scam, each check deposited by the defendant for payment by the government is a separate claim. The False Claims Act requires the court to award a minimum of $5,000 per claim. However, the court has the discretion to award up to $10,000 per claim, and the Act does not say how the court should determine the appropriate amount.  The court should consider the statutory purpose of making the government whole, so higher penalties are appropriate when the award of treble damages does not cover the cost of the government’s investigation. Higher penalties may also be appropriate when the defendant is guilty of extreme misconduct. In most cases, the court will award the minimum of $5,000 per claim if the government and the whistleblower fail to present evidence justifying a higher amount. 
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Comment #5 posted by Reykr on May 29, 2005 at 13:26:01 PT:
Re: Viagra, etc. might cause blindness
I live in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and sent the following as a letter to the Editor of the "Des Moines Register."I read the recent report that Viagra, Cialis and Levitra may cause blindness.In 1997, when I was taking a prescription drug to treat prostrate enlargement, (BPH), I became concerned about its side effects. These included dizziness and even possible eye damage. By research, I discovered an herbal supplement, that cost only half as much and didn't have those side effects. Eight years later, I'm still taking that herbal supplement.I also support efforts to allow the use of cannabis as medicine. There is much evidence that it can prevent the blindness that glaucoma causes, and that it alleviate the pain and nausea that accompany chemo and radiation treatments for cancer.For further information, or to make comments, leave a message at my blog site, which is: Baker
315 Washington Street, Apartment 4C
Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613
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Comment #4 posted by global_warming on May 29, 2005 at 11:31:33 PT
re: the top court
"This whole medical marijuana thing is a scam," said Bill Weinman, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor based in Denver. "You don't smoke your medicine."Of course the best method according to Mr. Bill is "swallowing" your medicine..I reckon that we are a children of a swallowing kind, now a days, but, medicine is medicine, and regardless of how a sick person ingests medicine, is it not the results of alleviation of suffering that is most important?
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Comment #3 posted by E_Johnson on May 29, 2005 at 10:26:41 PT
Another journalist who doesn't quite get it!
The Supreme Court is not going to decide whether state law trumps federal law.The Supreme Court is going to decide whether activity that is neither interstate nor commerce can be considered interstate commerce.From what I have heard of these legal arguments, I believe they rest on the original intention of Controlled Substance Act to HELP the states enfore state drug laws, by tackling the drug traffic that moves between states, which the state drug laws are not empowered to tackle..Reducing that complex question to the simplistic question of whether federal drug laws trump state drug laws reflects an ignorance of the history of the War on Drugs.It's amazing how ignorant reporters can be and still decide they know enough to file a story on this topic.
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on May 29, 2005 at 10:21:46 PT
Isn't this misleading?
The Supremes decission only effects cannabis clubs that are used to help make cannabis available.The Supremes will not be able to knock down the laws in those states that have voted to allow cannabis medically...Colorado state elected officials will have to uphold the will of Colorado voters; legally.THCUNo matter what the Supremes say, cannabis is good according to Christ God Our Father.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 29, 2005 at 09:36:34 PT
Shortened Version of Denver Post Article
High Court To Examine Medicinal MarijuanaRuling would determine whether federal drug ban trumps state laws on use. Denver PostMay 29, 2005,1,762665.story
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