Journey of a National Guard Soldier going Active

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Supreme wrong

CITYLIFE is a free weekly local newspaper in vegas that I read religiously even now while I'm over here. It has great articles and op-ed pieces. Here's the most recent one that I tend to agree with. Hope they don't mind me posting it?


In the wake of the Supreme Court's immoral decision to tear medical marijuana out of the hands of sick people -- even in states where American citizens have overwhelmingly authorized the practice -- the Drug Enforcement Administration sought to reassure Nevadans that it will continue to focus on big-time drug traffickers, not sick people harvesting marijuana to alleviate pain.

"Our mission remains the same," the DEA's Rogene Waite told the Review-Journal.

Waite was probably hoping we'd all forget what the Review-Journal's editorial page remembered: One case that gave rise to the decision involved DEA agents confiscating six marijuana plants from the back yard of a California woman who was growing them to deal with a degenerative spinal disease. Clearly, the danger of trafficking that much marijuana compelled the feds to act?

Lies are just as important in the federal government's war on drugs as Glocks, AWACS and cooperation with foreign dictators. Look no further than the facts in Gonzales v. Raich for proof: Despite the fact that California voters approved the use of marijuana as medicine, two California women were charged -- in federal court -- with drug offenses, which arise out of Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce.

But wait, the defendants replied, this marijuana was grown and used by sick people in California, not sold for profit. Congress has no business regulating commerce that takes place entirely within the state of California. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, but the Bush administration appealed (the "Gonzales" in the caption is none other than Attorney General Alberto Gonzales).

Nice try, the Supreme Court said. "Given the enforcement difficulties that attend distinguishing between marijuana cultivated locally and marijuana grown elsewhere ... the court has no difficulty concluding that Congress had a rational basis for believing that failure to regulate the intrastate manufacture and possession of marijuana would leave a gaping hole" in national drug laws, the court's ruling says. Therefore, right or wrong, Congress' authority -- and the drug laws written under it -- stand.

And in the process, a host of other liberties, including states' rights and the republican guarantee clause of the U.S. Constitution, are jeopardized.It's ironic that conservative Republicans in the Bush administration find themselves presiding over a huge expanse of federal power. They've tried to whittle away at abortion rights. They've authorized spying on Americans via the USA PATRIOT Act. They've abused the executive's warmaking powers by invading another country on false pretenses. Where have all the small-government conservatives gone?

When it comes to the war on drugs, however, there are no partisan bounds: Republicans and Democrats have prosecuted that war -- sometimes with fatal results -- with equal vigor. Former drug users (think Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) have in the latter years of their public service decided that we should definitely not do as they did.

If the American people had been told the truth about Iraq before American forces invaded -- that there were no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear program, no ties to the Sept. 11 terrorists and no threat to the United States, not to mention that we would lose hundreds of soldiers and the cost would be billions higher than predicted -- war would have been far less likely. A lie was needed to sell the war to Congress and the public, and a lie was what we got.

The same thing is true of the war on drugs. If the government ever told people the truth -- the campaign is unwinnable and a massive sacrifice of civil rights, federal treasure and lives is necessary to continue to fight it -- Americans might start asking some uncomfortable questions.

In fact, they already have. Voters in several states, including California and Nevada, have passed laws to legalize the use of marijuana by sick people. It's far less about defying Washington than it is about compassion. But what does that matter to the federal government, which, though unable to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks, is certainly able to prevent people in the last months or days of their lives from the only thing that seems to relieve them of a little pain.

Those lying bastards.


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