Monday, June 06, 2005

SC on medical marijuana

This is a pity:

Federal authorities may prosecute sick people who smoke pot on doctors' orders, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, concluding that state medical marijuana laws don't protect users from a federal ban on the drug.

The decision is a stinging defeat for marijuana advocates who had successfully pushed 10 states to allow the drug's use to treat various illnesses.

Justice John Paul Stevens, writing the 6-3 decision, said that Congress could change the law to allow medical use of marijuana.

...Stevens said there are other legal options for patients, "but perhaps even more important than these legal avenues is the democratic process, in which the voices of voters allied with these respondents may one day be heard in the halls of Congress."

Needless to say, this is politically naive (or deliberately obscurant); the judges know full well that nobody in congress is going to back this cause, as they would be terrified of the political opposition. That's precisely the reason why the states were dealing with the issue in the first place- cultures differ enough between the states that what is appropriate for one on this issue may not be appropriate for another. Yes, there are massive generational differences on this issue, but it's not enough to change the rules anytime soon.

While I'm not exactly a 10th amendment fanatic, Sandra Day O'Connor had a point when she said "The states' core police powers have always included authority to define criminal law and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens".

This does raise a good question, though: considering that Canada is developing a reputation for being fairly relaxed on this issue, I wonder if this is going to prompt a migration northward. British Columbia's climate may not be as nice as California's, but it sure beats jail.

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