RI flips bird at SCOTUS


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rhubarb
June 29, 2005, 05:20 PM
http://www.pbn.com/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/115582

State Assembly approves medical marijuana

The Rhode Island Senate Tuesday approved legislation that protects patients and their primary caregivers who use and prescribe marijuana for medical reasons from arrest.

The bill passed by a 33 to 1 margin. It passed the House earlier this month and will be sent on to the governor for approval.

The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act allows patients under a doctor's supervision and their caregivers to grow or otherwise acquire marijuana plants in very limited quantities - up to 12 plants or 2.5 ounces of "usable" marijuana.

The legislation would grant a state ID card that would protect them from arrest under state drug possession laws. Despite the fact the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that federal officials have the authority to enforce federal marijuana laws, most drug arrests come at the state level.

Since when does the Supreme Court (Gonzalez v. Raich) have anything whatsoever to do with deciding what medical treatment is required? Did some free staters get lost and end up in Rhode Island? This is as it should be.

Ever heerd of backlash? First the Souter Liberty House and now this.

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Jeeper
June 29, 2005, 06:17 PM
DEA can still come in and arrest them anyway. States dont have to make drugs illegal in their state. The federal statutes already cover it. All under the guise of interstate commerce!

Flyboy
June 29, 2005, 06:28 PM
Yes, but it means the Federales will now have to expend their own resources to catch violators, as opposed to having the states do their dirty work for them. And there are only so many FBI and DEA agents to go around.

I like it!

GT
June 29, 2005, 08:53 PM
As old jailbird Martha would say: "It's a Good Thing"


G

AZRickD
June 29, 2005, 10:28 PM
Yep, no assistance what-so-ever. A good addition to the law would be to provide legal assistance so that fed.gov would be forced to utilize finite resources to conduct trials rather than the usual 98% plea bargains which they *count* on to lessen their workload.

Rock-on Rhode Island.

Rick

CentralTexas
June 29, 2005, 10:50 PM
yankees and other east coast mind set people in the area I would become a free stater. :neener:
CT

Gung-Ho
June 29, 2005, 11:47 PM
DEA can still come in and arrest them anyway.

I just can't help but think about this quote.............

"What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he
went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he
would return alive...?"
--Alexandr Solzhenitsyn-- The Gulag Archipelago


The above is offered only for educational and informational purposses only. :D

Jeeper
June 30, 2005, 12:12 AM
A good addition to the law would be to provide legal assistance so that fed.gov would be forced to utilize finite resources to conduct trials rather than the usual 98% plea bargains which they *count* on to lessen their workload.



Compared to the state systems the feds are rolling in money. State systems are so underfunded that they are the ones that need the financial assistance. Even with legal assistance(which would probably be illegal) 98% would probably still be plea bargained. A lot of drug arrests or charges are done in conjunction with other crimes. This law really wont do much. I would also be curious to see if a fed court strikes it down as being some sort of illegal violation of their own laws.

AZRickD
June 30, 2005, 09:21 PM
Understood. I never assumed limitless resources for the states when compared to fedthug.gov. But if just a few percent of the 98% plea bargains were fought in court, and multiply that times a few dozen states... even fed.gov would have to adjust.

fed.gov depends on plea bargains. They would be in a messy situation, otherwise.

Rick

publius
June 30, 2005, 10:51 PM
Just for the record, RI is flipping off the drug warriors in the Congress and the White House, for the most part.

True that they're also flipping off the Court for saying that what the politicians are doing is OK, but it's still the politicians doing it.

The Congress created the Controlled Substances Act to cover even state-sanctioned medical cannabis use. The DEA has been enforcing that law, more so since Raich was decided. There seems to be no political price to pay.

The drug warriors who voted for those Congresscritters and for Bush will probably do so again, and most will probably continue to avoid any discussion of whether medical cannabis growing/use was intended to be among the "few and defined" powers of the federal government, or whether that would be one of the "numerous and indefinite...objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State," and thus a state government concern. (Madison (http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fed_45.html))

ravinraven
July 1, 2005, 07:25 AM
Thanx for this Gem:

"What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he
went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he
would return alive...?"
--Alexandr Solzhenitsyn-- The Gulag Archipelago

This is the basis for the growing Liberty Monitor movement in America. If the King's men won't do dirt because they've fallen in love with breathing, dirt won't get done no matter how much of an arseole the King becomes.

The land grabbers in the "Property Piracy Procedure" unleashed by the Dishonorable Five could find out what old Alex was saying. I, personally would not want to be caught practicing Property Piracy by any Liberty Monitor child.

rr

OF
July 1, 2005, 09:26 AM
I'd like to see RI put some meat behind that resolution and pledge to defend those doctors, growers and patients from federal agents. The states need to start standing up to the federal gov't. Stop sucking at the financial teat and do something concrete to shield the citizens from the feds.

If as a legislature you're going to pass laws allowing (now) prescription drugs to be used that conflict with federal law, you'd better stand ready to defend your citizens who take advantage of the state's decision. If the state is not prepared to do that, then you are just using the sick and needy as bait with no intention of springing the trap when the feds come for them.

And that's just sick.

Father Knows Best
July 1, 2005, 09:37 AM
Since when does the Supreme Court (Gonzalez v. Raich) have anything whatsoever to do with deciding what medical treatment is required? Did some free staters get lost and end up in Rhode Island? This is as it should be.

Ever heerd of backlash? First the Souter Liberty House and now this.

The Supreme Court did not declare on its own that medical use of marijuana was illegal. Congress and the President of the United States did that. SCOTUS simply upheld the Constitution of the United States. It correctly determined that the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution meant that the federal law banning possession of marijuana trumps (is supreme to) any conflicting state law that purports to allow it. SCOTUS basically said, "medical use of marijuana may well be a good thing, but that's an issue for Congress, not for the courts."

All the conservatives who decry "judicial activism" and want "strict constructionist" judges should be pleased with this decision. The Supremes took a "hands off" approach, which is exactly the opposite of "judicial activism", and they followed the exact letter of the Constitution, which says that federal law always trumps a conflicting state law.

The only way the Supremes could have come out otherwise would have been to find the federal drug laws unconstitutional. In other words, SCOTUS would have had to overturn and throw out many decades worth of regulation of drugs. That's the definition of an "activist" judiciary.

I agree that medical use of marijuana should be allowed. Frankly, I also have no problem with possession for personal use in general. But SCOTUS was correct to leave that question to be decided by our elected officials, and not by the courts.

Brett Bellmore
July 1, 2005, 09:50 AM
SCOTUS simply upheld the Constitution of the United States.

On the contrary, if they'd upheld it, they'd have ruled in Raich's favor. Because the war on drugs IS unconstitutional, at the federal level, outside of DC. It goes WAY beyond the powers the federal government is honestly delegated.

Would that be "activist"? So what? It's just as wrong for the Court to fail to enforce provisions that ARE in the Constitution, as it is for them to enforce provisions that AREN'T really to be found in it. Activism has nothing to do with it.

Members of Congress complain about activism, because the Court's failure to stop Congressional usurpations is a form of malfeasance they WANT the Court to commit. But we citizens have no such self-interested reason for wanting the Court to be a rubber stamp.

Don Gwinn
July 1, 2005, 09:52 AM
All true, except that if they're truly going to rest their decision on the proper powers of Congress, they can't justify letting Congress regulate something completely outside interstate commerce under the color of the "commerce clause."

Father Knows Best
July 1, 2005, 11:13 AM
I don't disagree. Unfortunately, that battle was lost back in 1937, with "the switch in time that saved nine." The Supreme Court had, until then, consistently overturned federal laws regulating economic activity on the grounds that such laws were beyond the power of the federal government. President Roosevelt, fed up with seeing much of his "New Deal" legislation thrown out by the courts, came up with a plan to pack the Supreme Court with favorable judges. Unfortunately, because the SCOTUS Justices were appointed for life per the Constitution, he couldn't remove them. So in early 1937 he proposed adding 6 new Justices, bringing the total from 9 to 15.

Shortly thereafter, SCOTUS handed down its decision in NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1 (1937). This case overturned much of the Supreme Court's earlier jurisprudence on the limits of Congressional power under the Interstate Commerce Clause ("ICC"), and opened the door for the federal government to regulate just about anything that touched in any way on commerce. Later cases in the 1930s, 40s and early 50s codified the new interpretation.

So SCOTUS could have declared the federal "war on drugs" to be unconstitutional as in excess of Congress' delegated authority under the ICC, but to do so it would have to reverse nearly 70 years of law. It may well be heading in that direction, but it's not going to make so sudden of a leap so quickly. The case of United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995), invalidating portions of the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, was the first case in almost 60 years to find that Congress had exceeded its authority under the ICC. While I'm hoping that Lopez was the start of a trend, it will be a long, slow haul to get back to anything like the pre-Jones & Laughlin days.

Al Norris
July 1, 2005, 12:43 PM
Father Knows Best? The Supreme Court did not Uphold the CSA under any pretext of the Supremacy Clause whatsoever. It redefined the meaning of "commerce" to mean "any economic activity" however tenuous to actual commerce. Interstate or not.

If that isn't Judicial Activism, then its never ever occurred.

And Scalia? He jumped on the side of the majority, just so he wouldn't have to knock down one of his precious precedents... Wickard, to be exact.

Our definitions of Judicial Activist differ by 180 degrees. Striking down bad law is not activism, its what they are supposed to be doing. Legislating from the bench, as in changing the meaning of the Constitution, is activism.

Father Knows Best
July 1, 2005, 02:11 PM
It redefined the meaning of "commerce" to mean "any economic activity" however tenuous to actual commerce. Interstate or not.

No, it didn't. That "redefinition" took place in 1937, in the Jones & Laughlin case I cited above. Thanks to the Jones & Laughlin decision 68 years ago, and the cases that followed it, Congress has the power to regulate economic activity that touches commerce in any way, shape or form. It Jones & Laughlin that effectively struck the word "Interstate" from the Constitution and turned the "Interstate Commerce Clause" into the "Commerce Clause."

The Supremacy Clause is implicated only because Congress already acted to regulated marijuana, and under Jones & Laughlin that regulation was within Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce. The state laws therefore conflict with a valid federal law, and the Supremacy Clause comes into play.

If that isn't Judicial Activism, then its never ever occurred.I don't agree, on two fronts. First, it's hard to call something "activism" when it is merely upholding 68 years worth of legal history. If there was any "activism", it came back in 1937 when the Supreme Court caved to pressure from the Roosevelt administration and reversed a long line of commerce clause cases.

Second, it would have been hard to call it "activism" even in 1937. After all, the Supreme Court wasn't overturning anything in Jones & Laughlin. To the contrary, it was upholding laws passed by a democratically elected Congress and signed by a democratically elected President. The outcry in the 1930s was that an "activist" Supreme Court, by striking down various New Deal laws, was standing in the way of necessary legislation to help the country emerge from the depression. The Court ended its "activist" position by finally caving in and letting Congress and the White House, and presumably the American public, have what it wanted -- federal regulation of economic activity.

I think the problem is that the Supreme Court wasn't "activist" enough. It should have stood its ground back in 1937, and we wouldn't be in this mess today.

publius
July 1, 2005, 08:35 PM
FKB,

Thomas' answer to your argument is multi faceted, but a significant one is that in order for the Supremacy clause to be invoked, the law must be Constitutional, which of course begs the question at hand. Part of it being Constitutional would be being "necessary and proper" to the federal law. As Thomas and O'Connor noted, it is difficult to believe that the tiny, highly state-regulated medical cannabis community could have much, if any, effect on the vast interstate black market. All available evidence indicates the opposite, that there is very little leakage from the licensed medical dealers into the black market. All the available evidence also indicates that prohibition is a miserable failure, but that's another thread. ;)

Here's the Thomas dissent in Raich:

http://straylight.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-1454.ZD1.html

Bob F.
July 1, 2005, 08:53 PM
Ya' know, the "Civil War" (how can any war be civil??) wasn't about slavery, it was about state's rights. The Federal Government is supposed to provide only those services that can't be provided locally, etc., etc........

megatronrules
July 2, 2005, 03:20 PM
Well this is a funny thing I think being a RI. native its especially funny. I don't think that there anything wrong with this so long as the state can be sure its not going to be used as a "pot smokers stay out of jail card". Now I don't drink,smoke,take pills or anything else but thats my personal choice so I'am not going to judge anyone else,what they chose to do with thair life is up to them. Also I'am not a doctor so i don't even know if pot even helps some medical conditions so again just my .02 cents,tootles :o

Brett Bellmore
July 3, 2005, 08:49 AM
I don't think that there anything wrong with this so long as the state can be sure its not going to be used as a "pot smokers stay out of jail card"

Wouldn't be anything wrong with it even if it WAS going to be used as a "pot smokers stay out of jail card". At some point we have to accept that some things are just nobody else's business, that disapproval isn't a license to shoot people if they don't obey you.

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