Medical Marijuana: Read Between The Lines

  Medical Marijuana: Read Between The Lines

Posted by CN Staff on June 14, 2005 at 08:03:27 PT
By Neil S. Siegel 
Source: News & Observer 

Durham, N.C. -- It is critical for Americans to understand what the Supreme Court decided -- and what it did not decide -- in its medical marijuana ruling last week. The court held, 6-3, that the Constitution authorizes Congress to prohibit the local cultivation and use of marijuana in states allowing such activity. But the justices did not conclude that the federal prohibition on medical marijuana is sound ethically or scientifically.To the contrary, the court suggested just the opposite. Now Congress and the president should act to allow ill individuals to possess small amounts of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Under settled Supreme Court precedent, Congress may regulate a commodity produced for non-commercial use within a state if the failure to regulate it might impede federal regulation of the interstate market in that commodity. Applying this bit of constitutional law to locally grown and used marijuana, the court decided that "Congress had a rational basis for concluding that leaving home-consumed marijuana outside federal control" would affect the supply and demand nationally, because of the "likelihood" that the high demand for marijuana in the interstate market would draw marijuana grown for home consumption into that market. The court reasoned that "the diversion of homegrown marijuana tends to frustrate the federal interest in eliminating commercial transactions in the interstate market in their entirety."The decision means that people who use marijuana because their doctors recommend it to alleviate pain may be prosecuted for violating federal drug laws. Two such people are the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case, Angel Raich and Diane Monson, who suffer from several serious medical conditions. After conventional treatment and pain management options failed, their doctors prescribed marijuana and later concluded that it is the only drug that affords effective treatment and symptom control. Both Raich and Monson rely heavily on medical marijuana to function. In light of these heartbreaking facts, the court was clearly uneasy about the prospect of approving application of the federal drug law to Raich's and Monson's situations -- "the troubling facts of this case," as the majority opinion put it -- even if Congress could rationally believe that a medical marijuana exception would undercut enforcement of the federal ban on recreational marijuana use to some extent. Justice Stevens wrote for the majority that "(t)he case is made difficult by respondents' strong arguments that they will suffer irreparable harm because, despite a congressional finding to the contrary, marijuana does have valid therapeutic purposes."He stressed that the question before the court "is not whether it is wise to enforce the statute in these circumstances." Stevens even concluded the court's opinion by tendering other "avenue(s) of relief" -- specifically, the statutory "procedures for the reclassification" of marijuana, through which medicinal uses of the drug could become legal, and "the democratic process, in which the voices of voters allied with (Raich and Monson) may one day be heard in the halls of Congress."The Supreme Court, therefore, voiced well-grounded concerns about the wisdom and compassion underlying Congress' refusal to allow medical marijuana. Yet the justices put their misgivings aside, recognized the distinction between law and politics, and executed their responsibilities admirably by deciding the case based on their considered judgment that the Constitution required deference to Congress. By engaging in judicial restraint, moreover, the court avoided jeopardizing many other federal statutes, ranging from drug laws to environmental protections to civil rights acts.Now it is time for Congress and the president to step up and earn the deference our Constitution confers.Congress has the right to prohibit medical marijuana, and the president therefore has the right to order the Justice Department to pursue sick people who use marijuana for medicinal purposes. But that legal reality does not make either exercise of federal power the right thing to do. Congress should read between the lines of the Supreme Court's decision, register the good sense contained therein and seriously consider reclassifying marijuana to provide for some medical uses.In the meantime, Congress should make an exception to the federal ban for medical marijuana use permitted under state law. And until Congress acts, the president should order the Justice Department not to bother the Angel Raiches and Diane Monsons of our world.It is painfully perverse that the federal government would expend any of its scarce law enforcement resources on making life even more difficult for people who seek only to manage their enormous suffering. The Supreme Court's medical marijuana decision provides scant authority for the propriety of such government conduct.Neil S. Siegel, a former U.S. Supreme Court clerk, is an assistant professor of law and political science at Duke University.Source: News & Observer (NC)Author: Neil S. SiegelPublished: June 14, 2005Copyright: 2005 The News and Observer Contact: forum nando.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Angel Raich v. Ashcroft News Finds Opposition To Federal Pot Raids Backers Seek Support in Congress Proponents Seek House Vote Tuesday

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Comment #25 posted by Agog on June 15, 2005 at 09:31:33 PT
NRA Tactics and Strategies
Hope,Good observation about the NRA... I've often thought there should be a way to study them more closely (other than reading my monthly issues of "America's First Freedom")Yes, I'm a member... They are extremely effective in Lobbying and fundraising and obviously the two go hand in hand IF there was a way to effectively reach out to them on a Constitutional basis it would be very useful for our cause. As this insane drug war continues some of the "true" conservatives are starting to open their eyes to what is happening to our formerly constitutionally protected freedoms.All the Best
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Comment #24 posted by Hope on June 15, 2005 at 06:15:58 PT
Maybe marches aren't the most powerful way
we can stand up to the prohibitionists.Maybe the best thing we can do is make MPP, NORML, and the Drug Policy Alliance as powerful a voice as the NRA. The NRA isn't powerful because it's a manufacturer's lobby or a group of Washington's elite. It's actually neither of those things. It's powerful because it is a huge collection of common citizens spread throughout the United States, willing to support it and make it a voice large enough not to be ignored.Furthermore, it may not be the amount of money they collect, as much as it is the number of members that they can show that they have. One way that those membership numbers can be boosted is through a common practice of many NRA members. They don't just join themselves and add one number to the total. They often give yearly memberships to friends and relatives as gifts to those who might not be able or quite willing to donate the cash for the memberships themselves. Many people include the NRA in their Last Will and Testament and those special accounts, Trusts, I think they are called, set up to pay their interest to a 
specific group or organization, as well as scholarships. At the rate this thing is going, some of us may need to give thought to that Last Will and Testament business.I can't recall the exact numbers at the moment, but I'm sure that MPP, DPA, and the NRA prominently display their membership numbers at their websites and on their literature. Those numbers are "approximate weight" in a heavy weight battle. They can make an opponent stop and consider what he might be wanting to do battle with. We might could do more good by boosting those numbers than going to Washington in masse. Our critics can't just sneer "Big money"...they have to take into account that it's "Big membership". The donation of large amounts is critical but those small amounts matter and that Membership count matters the most.We've seen way too many of our marches...even large ones, ignored or mocked or virtually just "winked" at.Just a thought that's been on my mind lately.
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Comment #23 posted by FoM on June 14, 2005 at 17:01:11 PT
Thanks for telling us. Maybe they'll get it so it can work with other versions too. 
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Comment #22 posted by FoM on June 14, 2005 at 16:58:45 PT
I haven't heard the term whitey in so many years I can't recall when. I only know Americans need to stand up and many are as we type these comments in Washington D.C. right now!
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Comment #21 posted by Druid on June 14, 2005 at 16:51:13 PT
MPP Commercials
Quicktime 6.5 (the current version) has a hard time playing these commercials but the public preview release of quicktime 7 plays them just fine.
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Comment #20 posted by siege on June 14, 2005 at 16:47:23 PT
on and off topic
OK white Boys and Girls open your eyes and look at this thing like the Mexicans and Blacks do, if they want something they GO together and hold hands till they (get it).and who is the most feared person in the work place people I will tell you...that is a black woman bar none...
whitey's GO it Alone and never make IT...and this is what your government is looking for, so they can beat you, and do what they want to do... So as white people we are going to have to stand up and work together or fall on our ass's and be taken out one at (a time)... and they like to take us out one at a time it is so easy for them... Just look at the polls over 79,000 + FROM 72% to 89 %% of the people said that prescribed Medical Marijuana Treatment should NOT be prosecuted...I CAN'T DO THAT IT WILL LOOK BAD ON ME...dose that stop the Mexicans.or blacks from doing it NO...If I do it I could lose my job or worst! What can be worst then DIEING with NO Medical Treatment like they are putting us through!!!
So let us get it Right here people one man or woman at a time will NOT do it. we all have to stand up at one time...
we have to have a FIVE million MAN and WOMAN MARCH on Washington DC. to show them we will Not stand for there BAD SERVICE any longer...and get the GUTLESS wanders out of there or to stand up for us...
 had my say, so think about it, before you Flame me...FoM if you take it down I hear you....
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Comment #19 posted by FoM on June 14, 2005 at 15:42:14 PT
Thanks Again Taylor
They'll get it fixed I'm sure.
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Comment #18 posted by Taylor121 on June 14, 2005 at 15:36:24 PT
Didn't show for me either, just audio
Not sure, it needs a plugin of some sort, but I don't know what to get. I will look into it later, either that or it is MPP's mistake. Oh well, point is they are playing in Rhode Island which is good to have that extra pressure. I think the MPP wants to show the U.S. that medical marijuana is not a dead issue because of the Supreme Court ruling. I hope they succeed. 
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on June 14, 2005 at 15:23:21 PT
Did the commercials show up for you? I don't use this player often and it shows it scrolling sideways but no picture.
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on June 14, 2005 at 15:16:01 PT
Thanks Taylor
I just posted this article.Measure Aims To Prevent Medical-Marijuana Prosecutions:
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Comment #15 posted by Taylor121 on June 14, 2005 at 15:15:14 PT
Tv Ad Link Corrected had a period at the end that was screwing it up :)
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Comment #14 posted by Taylor121 on June 14, 2005 at 15:12:52 PT
MPP Lauches TV Ad Campaign in Rhode Island
TV Ad Campaign Calls on Gov. Carcieri to Support Medical
Marijuana Legislation
PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND -- A statewide television ad campaign debuting this Wednesday will ask Rhode Islanders to call Gov. Donald Carcieri (R) to ask him to support S.B. 710 and H.B. 6052, medical marijuana bills pending in Rhode Island. Carcieri has threatened to veto the bills, which are sponsored by over 50% of the Rhode Island General Assembly and have been endorsed by the Rhode Island Medical Society, the Rhode Island Nurses Association and AIDS Project Rhode Island. The ads can be viewed online at first two ads to air feature Rhonda O'Donnell, a Warwick registered nurse who suffers from multiple sclerosis. In the first ad, she describes how her father used marijuana in his final months before succumbing to cancer; in the second, she talks about her debilitating illness and urges the governor to support the measure.O'Donnell is one of numerous state residents who received rude treatment over the past several weeks after calling Carcieri's office to register their support for the medical marijuana legislation. O'Donnell was hung up on numerous times and a staffer angrily disputed O'Donnell's support for medical marijuana legislation."Governor Carcieri can no longer hide from the fact that Rhode Islanders overwhelmingly support medical marijuana," said Neal Levine, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "When people see the ad and call the governor, hopefully he won't hang up on them this time."A Zogby International poll released in March 2004 showed that 69% of Rhode Islanders support legislation protecting medical marijuana patients and caregivers. Full poll results are available online at states currently have effective medical marijuana laws protecting patients and their caregivers from arrest and imprisonment: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.With more than 17,000 members and 120,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP works to minimize the harm associated with marijuana -- both the consumption of marijuana and the laws that are intended to prohibit such use. MPP believes that the greatest harm associated with marijuana is imprisonment. For more information, see another note: Ron Paul R-TX, one of our allies in Congress, is speaking on the costs of war.
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Comment #13 posted by Taylor121 on June 14, 2005 at 15:06:54 PT
The Byrne Grant program, the one I mentioned earlier that is primarily used to fund drug task forces got increased funding on a voice vote, it was just slipped in and passed. It's sad. This has nothing to do with the medical marijuana amendment, but it will effect cannabis consumers around the nation since these task forces do target marijuana and their corruption continues to go unnoticed by the Feds.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on June 14, 2005 at 15:04:32 PT
What Did I Miss?
What happened?
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Comment #11 posted by Taylor121 on June 14, 2005 at 14:54:56 PT
Vitamin, Yeah I saw
I'm still digesting the poison.
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Comment #10 posted by VitaminT on June 14, 2005 at 14:47:56 PT
Not so fast! they slipped it in right at the end!
5 minutes of "debate" and bam the corruption-promoting Byrne Grant is back in business.
What a bunch of crap!5:21 P.M. - On agreeing to the Garrett (NJ) amendment Agreed to by voice vote.5:16 P.M. - DEBATE - The Committee of the Whole proceeded with debate on the Garrett (NJ) amendment under the five-minute rule.Amendment offered by Mr. Garrett (NJ).An amendment to increase funding for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program by $21,947,600. 
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Comment #9 posted by Taylor121 on June 14, 2005 at 14:34:14 PT

Drug WarRant Update
Results of voting on the first amendments that related to drug war: Amendment offered by Mr. Obey. An amendment to increase funding for State and local law enforcement. The increase is offset by a reduction in funding for NASA. Failed. Amendment offered by Mr. Terry. An amendment numbered 20 printed in the Congressional Record to increase funding for Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants. The increase is offset by making an across-the-board cut in discretionary spending of 0.448%. Failed. Amendment offered by Mr. Reichert. An amendment numbered 12 printed in the Congressional Record to increase funding for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) programs by $78.3 million. Amendment offsets the increase by reducing funds for salaries and expenses at the FBI by $50 million, reducing salaries and expenses at the Drug Enforcement Administration by $11.7 million, and by reducing funding for international broadcasting operations by $16.6 million. Failed. Amendment offered by Mr. Baird. An amendment to increase funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services by $10 million. Amendment also seeks to increase funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration by $10 million. Amendment reduces funding for the 2010 decennial census by $10 million. Amendment also seeks to reduce funding for the salaries and expenses of the Bureau of the Census by $10 million. Passed. Amendment offered by Mr. Stearns. An amendment numbered 16 printed in the Congressional Record which seeks to increase funding for the Justice Assistance Program by $10 million. Amendment seeks to reduce funding for the Legal Services Corporation by $10 million. Failed. 
Update on Hinchey: In a bit of housekeeping on the bill, it was announced that the Hinchey amendment will get 30 minutes of debate (15 minutes per side) when it comes up. Also, it appears that there are a ton of amendments left to debate. It's likely that this may continue as far as Thursday (certainly all day tomorrow).
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on June 14, 2005 at 14:33:20 PT

Thanks Taylor
I turned on Connected with Ron Reagan because I like his politics. I won't check back to C-Span then until tomorrow. Actually as the day went on people get tired and I would rather them be fresh when they hear our issue so another day is ok with me!
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Comment #7 posted by Taylor121 on June 14, 2005 at 14:30:42 PT

I think the recess is for the day. Looks like the debate won't be till tomorrow. 
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Comment #6 posted by Taylor121 on June 14, 2005 at 14:27:07 PT

They just mentioned Hinchey
There will be a 30 minute debate eventually on medical marijuana. I believe there are two amendments ahead of it, the House is currently in recess. Stay tuned. I have to go somewhere in about an hour in 15 min so I can just see me missing it all :(
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on June 14, 2005 at 14:20:13 PT

Thank you! I understood what you said. You are good!
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Comment #4 posted by Taylor121 on June 14, 2005 at 14:18:12 PT

They haven't got to the hinchey amendment yet. They are moving section by section through the appropriations spending bill that funds our justice department and sciences and offering amendments. Our amendment will bar the justice department from using funds to go after medical marijuana patients that are using under the care of their doctor in states where it is legal. So far one amendment has passed to increase funding to the Drug War by 10 million dollars. Tulia was the incident in Texas where dozens of african americans were arrested by a drug task force that are under the Byrne grant program, this Tulia incident sparked national attention and was a case of corruption and it is not an isolated incident. These task forces operate with little oversight and are fundamentally out of control from the top down because there is no accountability. Congress is propping them up under the guise that they are fighting a meth epidemic, but these task forces do not simply target meth, they target marijuana on up. It is sickening.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on June 14, 2005 at 14:13:07 PT

I don't understand all of this. I have a real mental block to politics. I didn't see anything on C-Span today about the Amendment but I was busy and it was really hard for me to hold my attention. Did anything concerning medical marijuana happen? I heard something about meth and that turned me off so if they fit it in I could have missed it.
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Comment #2 posted by Taylor121 on June 14, 2005 at 13:42:05 PT

Cspan if you are interested in MMJ vote
An interesting day on C-SpanIt's time to act. If you haven't already, you need to contact your Congressperson and have them support the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment to the Justice Appropriations bill. At this point, the best way to have an impact is to call their office and tell the staff person.
Remember, this is an amendment to the appropriations bill that would state that no federal money can be used to go after medical marijuana patients (in states that have medical marijuana laws) if they are complying with state law. [This is how the votes went in 2003 and 2004 (an Aye vote was good).]The amendment is likely to be debated today.While passage of the amendment is unfortunately still unlikely, we have the best chance we've ever had, coming right after the Supreme Court decision and all the press coverage and opinion polls. Also, this is the first time that the amendment itself has gotten some publicity. An AP wire story came out yesterday on it: Medical marijuana proponents seek House vote Tuesday. That story makes it clear that Mark Souder will be leading the effort to defeat the amendment (no surprise).Mark Souder has already been out on the House floor this morning. The House has started discussion on the Justice Appropriations Bill (carried on C-Span), mostly dealing with the rules, so far. But even so, drug war issues have been mentioned. Souder got up and almost started shouting about the fact that the Appropriations bill doesn't have enough drug war money. That's right, Republican Mark Souder thinks the current administration is soft on drugs and said he is "appalled at the President's approach to drug policy."He particularly complained about the reduction of certain programs (like the Byrne grant for drug task forces) with colorful language like: "We're looking at almost a 50% whacking in some of these categories."The thing is, these were horrible programs, full of corruption, that needed to be ended. But the Bush administration didn't just cut their funding - it moved the money to other areas of the drug war so that the entire drug policy budget actually increased. Now Souder and others are trying to restore the cuts. The House version of the appropriations bill already puts $348 million back into the Byrne grants and $60 million back into Meth Hotspots program, and Souder announced he will try for more through the amendment process.Of course, this will be done without reducing any of the amount that the President's budget shifted to other areas, so we could end up with a massive increase in the overall drug policy budget... could that have been the plan?Update: So far, the leaders of the discussion about the bill (from both parties) are bragging in program after program about how much additional drug war funding they have added to the bill beyond what the administration asked.Update 2: We're in the amendment phase of the discussion -- the amendments are being discussed, but the votes held to a later time. There are also some amendments that are offered just to have the opportunity to bring up a point and then withdrawn. Three amendments have pushed for additional funding for federal law enforcement (read "drug") grants to local entities (through increasing taxes, cutting NASA, or cutting across the board). Davis (IL) had a nice discussion amendment highlighting the importance of helping ex-cons transition into the work force. Hinchey hasn't appeared yet.Update 3: Buzzword today seems to be "meth." Everybody's using the scourge of meth to ask for more funding for federal law enforcement grants. Two more amendments looking for increased funding for COPS, one taking money from the FBI to do it, and another taking money from the Census to do it.Update 4: Wow! Now they're asking for more money for Byrne JAG grants by taking money away from legal assistance for the poor! That's just outrageous. There must be some very powerful lobbying being done by law enforcement for there to be this many amendments on essentially the same subject. [note: idiot Rep. Cliff Stearns actually said that if we fund the Byrne grants, the poor won't need legal assistance because there will no longer be any crime! And he asked the representatives to join him and "be on the side of the angels."]Update 4 pm Eastern: They're now going to be voting on all the amendments that have been discussed so far, so there's a break in the action while the members show up on the floor and vote on all of these. Hinchey hasn't come up yet.From: I caught some of the earlier debating, they have tried to boost up Byrne grant funding for drug task forces,arguably the most corrupt law enforcement entity in the nation. I know this first hand, this is just sad. It sickens me to see our elected officials like this.
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Comment #1 posted by goneposthole on June 14, 2005 at 08:53:23 PT

fix the facts
If the facts can be fixed to form new realities and find flimsy, bogus evidence to invade Iraq, Congress can do the same for medical cannabis."It was found, the evidence is overwhelming, that cannabis, unequivocably and invariably, reduces pain and suffering in the sick and dying. The science is in, the studies complete, and it has been proven beyond any doubt that people can benefit from the efficaciousness of cannabis.""We wholeheartedly declare that cannabis is medicine. It can and should be used by all who seek relief from any and all kinds of illness."There, that won't be difficult at all. They can use the words I write, I don't care. A rather pleasant reality at that, wouldn't you agree? Includes some real facts, not fixed whatsoever. Anhydrous ammonia will be in short supply pretty soon with all of the methamphetamine producers stealing it all of the time. Congress should fix the facts to increase the supply of cold medicines and drain opener to lower the costs for those hell bent on making more meth. Those meth producers living out there in the sticks have to increase the supply. It makes a terrific odor, so you have to be in some rural setting to avoid detection.The hapless youth on the streets of America need more illegal drugs made available to them. Unicor needs some busy bees waiting in the wings. The sons and daughters of those in Congress should think about visiting some off-shore vacation paradise to avoid being pressured into joining the military. Only those taxpaying slaves' sons and daughters need to join. They can die for the neocons' wars and exploits. They can shoot at American citizens, too, like those high paid employees at Zapata Engineering. The Civil War in Iraq includes everybody, not just the Sunnis and Shi-ite Muslims.The Bush Cabal makes it own realities, so anything is real these days.Fix those facts. It's unreal how reality is these days.
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