Right To Grow Pot Is Like a Right To Be Uninsured
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Right To Grow Pot Is Like a Right To Be Uninsured
Posted by CN Staff on December 01, 2009 at 19:21:49 PT
By Ann Woolner, Commentary
Bloomberg -- Angel Raichís doctor swore under oath that her life depended on her getting marijuana. A caregiver was growing it for her in California, which legalized it for medicinal use.Too bad, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. Congress outlawed marijuana and can do so under its constitutional powers to regulate interstate commerce, the justices held. What, you may ask, do a few plants for a sick womanís comfort have to do with interstate commerce?
The Supreme Court saw little difference between her and Ohio farmer Roscoe Filburn, who grew more wheat to feed his chickens and other livestock than Washington allowed under a 1938 agricultural program.The grain never crossed his property line much less a state line. The Supreme Court in 1942 said it could still be linked to interstate commerce, if you thought about it hard enough. So it, too, was subject to federal regulation, the court said.These days, the independent streak shown by Raich and Filburn lives in those who claim the government has no right to force any American to buy health insurance.They, too, are wrong.Consider their best example, a metaphorical man I will call Joe. He never gets sick, never sees a doctor or checks into a hospital. It wonít be disease that kills him in a few years but an SUV driven by a 318-pound chain-smoker whose heart seized up just as Joe jogged in front of her car on his way to buy flax granola.Can Congress force Joe to buy a government-approved health insurance plan or else face a special tax so that insurance will be cheaper for 318-pound chain smokers?  Sure To Follow  This is the question sure to follow any law that requires people to enroll in a government-approved health insurance plan or be slapped with an extra tax.Getting a bill through Congress, tough as that is, is only one step. Opponents are sure to challenge it in court.My money is against them. The Roberts Supreme Court would have to ignore, reverse or parse its way around inconvenient precedent for them to prevail.(On second thought, I might not bet a lot of money.)The Constitution specifically authorizes Congress to tax citizens to provide for the nationís ďgeneral welfare.Ē As Filburn and Raich learned, the Constitutionís commerce clause lets Congress regulate even seemingly self-contained aspects of our lives.On the tax question, few matters are more tied to a nationís general welfare than the health of its people. When Americans die each year for lack of access to medical help, when families go bankrupt because of sickness, it is clearly in the interest of the nationís general welfare to fix the problem. Illegal Taxes   Some kinds of taxes are illegal, such as those levied purely to punish certain conduct. Thatís how opponents characterize this one. Yet, its purpose is to encourage conduct considered good for the country and to help pay for health care.A closer call is the claim Congress canít require people to sign up for insurance. Opponents are right that the commerce clause has never been stretched to require citizens to buy something.Previous rulings pertain to people doing something the government forbids, not refraining from doing that which the government requires.And yet, the Raich and Filburn rulings should carry the day for health-care reformers. Her personal pot use and his stash of livestock feed became Congressís business because of the effect they would have on the economy if everyone did what they were doing. Private Crops   If lots of farmers relied on their own private wheat crops to feed their livestock, that would have a ďsubstantial impact on interstate commerce,Ē the high court said. So Congress had constitutional authority to regulate it.Likewise, Raichís private use of marijuana by itself wouldnít cause the tiniest ripple in the nationís economy or commerce. But if everyone with any medical need for it were allowed to set up little pot farms in their basements, Congressís authority to regulate or ban drugs would be undercut.That said, two cases do limit the commerce clauseís reach. The Supreme Court said Congress couldnít use the clause to justify the Violence Against Women Act and, earlier, a federal law forbidding guns on school grounds.So what? Itís hard to find a connection between the national economy and either of those problems, violent crime and guns at school. Itís far easier to argue a link between interstate commerce and health care, which constitutes more than 17 percent of the national economy.And yet, there is Joe, who has no need for health insurance. Maybe he is prepared to pay out of his pocket for knee surgery if all that running tears a meniscus. National Shame   His problem is that his individual decision, multiplied across the country millions of times, would make it impossible for Congress to fix what is clearly a national shame: the lack of basic health care for millions of Americans.If reforming health care isnít considered good for the nationís general welfare, if the effect it has on the economy isnít considered a matter of interstate commerce, then nothing is.Ann Woolner is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.Source: (USA)Author: Ann WoolnerPublished: December 1, 2009Copyright: 2009 Bloomberg L.P.Contact: awoolner bloomberg.netWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on December 02, 2009 at 16:32:10 PT
charmed quark
I haven't heard anything about how Angel is doing since right after the surgery. I hope she is getting better. I also hope Jack Herer is getting better too.
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Comment #4 posted by charmed quark on December 02, 2009 at 15:52:19 PT
How's Angel doing?
Anybody have an update on Angel? The last I saw was in early November, a few days after her brain surgery. I hope she is doing OK.The original court ruling on wheat was bad enough. The cannabis ruling is just absurd. If all medical patients grew their own medicine in their basement, the impact would be to reduce movement of marijuana over state borders, the goal of the anti-drug laws. So it HELPs the government control this illicit commerce.
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Comment #3 posted by runruff on December 02, 2009 at 06:50:13 PT
Sun Tzu would be proud!
The offensive spearheaded by FoM and Stick is exactly what Sun would have recommended as an answer to the war on US by our government. As a student of Mr. Tsu, I see this tactic here and elsewhere on on the web, as what he would call the winning of hearts campaign.Cutting supply lines [budgets] also a winning tactic. By getting the right people elected we are being successful at getting certain budgets cut. Money going into the hands of destructive people. The current national/global money crisis is helping alot!His philosophy was to win a war without violence or as little as possible. To let the other guy wear himself out in pursuit of you until he is exhausted, then have your way with him.When pressed into actual battle he was fond of the end run. The flanking movement and the faint.When confronted by an overwhelming sized force these tactics proved successful when applied with proper timing.Our enemy is all but exhausted. We are and have been winning the hearts and minds of the people.This web site is an end run, as in a flanking movement around power. Not to meet power on it's own terms on it's own chosen turf, but engage in a fighting retreat and attack it's weaker flanks. I say their ineptitude in generating positive PR and justification for it's drug campaign is their weakest point. Right where we attack! It is like a real, actual battle where the feds are fighting it out in the center of the battlefield [courts, border, DEA raids] while we are encroaching on all sides with science, medicine, increasing positive public opinion, forcing the MSM to get on board with us or stand to loose any smidgen of credibility they may have left with which to peddle there wares!Sun Tzu said, "It may be necessary to lose every battle in order to win the war!"
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on December 02, 2009 at 05:10:25 PT
The Roberts Supreme Court would have to ignore,
reverse or parse its way around inconvenient precedent for them to prevail.This being stated as if they would be doing something out of the ordinary?Why should we expect the Supreme Court Jesters to treat this issue any differently from all the other hodge podge, goobledy gook, they come up with? 
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on December 01, 2009 at 20:46:09 PT
Thank you Ann ... reforming health care ...
legalize marijuana! Thank you Ann for making this connection, one that I've been trying to point out for a while now.
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