Go Angel Raich. The mom of two, suffering from a brain tumor, lights a hash pipe every few hours to help her deal with the pain that no prescription medication that she has taken to date can cure. Raich is backed by both her doctor and California state law.
She is not, however, backed by the Federal Government. You see, the Feds are too busy continuing to fight a forty-year losing battle – otherwise known as the War on Drugs – on behalf of you and me. And that’s where the Supreme Court steps in later today to decide her fate, and that of medical marijuana along with it.
Three years ago, the Supreme Court ruled against medical marijuana and proclaimed that the government was within its rights to crack down on those who grew cannabis for medicinal purposes. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals ruled against the government, declaring bans against medicinal marijuana unconstitutional as long as the cannabis was used only for medicinal purposes and was not transported across state lines.
Of course, the gestapos from DARE and other anti-drug organizations won’t be happy if the Feds lose this case (officially known as Ashcroft vs. Raich). It must be said that, concerning a common sense approach to drugs, we are no better off under Bush with Walters and Ashcroft as his head enforcement honchos than we were under Clinton who terrorized us all with his overzealous use of the ATF and his appointment of Barry McCaffrey as drug czar.
Naturally, Bush – as he did with the proposed gay marriage amendment – is appealing to social conservatives who approve of a right-wing nanny state. No homosexuality, pornography, drugs, euthanasia or even immigrants allowed – we’ve determined that all of these things are detrimental to America’s health! (The only possible things I agree with this paleo-con crowd about is abortion, which is literally killing our youth and has created a culture of death, and their defense of traditional marriage.)
Ten states currently allow marijuana for medicinal purposes – if the patient’s doctor agrees to try cannabis treatment – to dull the pain of multiple sclerosis, cancer, and AIDS-related illnesses. The Supreme Court decision will be critical as these states are subject to federal law with respect to drug policy – in other words, the will of the states are being held as hostages in this “war on drugs” – making their statutes in favor of medicinal marijuana worthless. In other words, medicinal marijuana is fine in theory but never in actual practice. In fact, Raich’s home was raided by federal agents, which is how the case came before the Supreme Court.
Even states in the thick of the Bible Belt side with Raich, California state law and medicinal marijuana (though they don’t have medicinal marijuana laws themselves): The states of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, according to the AP report, maintain the attitude that the Feds should not interfere with states’ rights to provide “for the health, safety, welfare and morals of their citizens.” (But perhaps it’s not so surprising that some Southern states would stick up for states’ rights when you think about it.)
This report, courtesy of The Los Angeles Times, highlights the schism in conservative thinking regarding substances. Likening the fight against marijuana (medical or otherwise) to wine shipping, the piece states:
The [California] wine-shipping case features a similar dispute between conservatives who champion free trade and those who support strict state controls on alcohol, including a national group of evangelical Christians.
Question: Why should free trade ever take a back seat to evangelical Christians? We all know these hard-line Bible worshippers favor a theocracy, but this is a democratic republic and any body from any branch of the government who can’t see this side of the argument is a religious reactionary, not a true conservative. The same applies to the fight against marijuana. Those Republicans who argue that if the government loses this fight, then the drug traffickers will be the winners just do not get it. The government helped to create the dangerous and deadly black market, through which drug traffickers and dealers operate, in the first place with its morally and economically indefensible Prohibition.
(Note: It is interesting to discover, via the piece, that Ken Starr is among those arguing in favor of the wineries, decrying the economic protectionism of the winery law.)
As a small-government, free-market conservative, I echo the sentiment expressed here by The Anchorage Daily News.
With regard to the largely conservative members of the Supreme Court, I particularly love this quote from Robert A. Levy, a constitutional scholar at the Cato Institute, “They have to decide whether they want to be Mr. Law-and-Order or Mr. Federalism.”
Concerning conservatism in the modern day, we can only hope it follows its libertarian roots. Those people who want to keep medicinal marijuana illegal are the same types who honestly think they have a right to dictate what goes on in the privacy of one’s bedroom.
A Supreme Court victory today in favor of states’ rights would help take a bit of the edge off the evangelical control of this political philosophy. This I would unreservedly welcome. Religion and conservatism may go hand-in-hand, but the latter shouldn’t be governed totally by the former.