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Monday, June 06, 2005

Court rules against medical marijuana

USATODAY.com - Court rules medical marijuana laws don't shield users:

Federal authorities may prosecute sick people who smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes, even in states that have legalized the practice, the Supreme Court ruled Monday. The court, in a 6-3 decision, concluded that state 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 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." In a dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said that states should be allowed to set their own rules. "The states' core police powers have always included authority to define criminal law and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens," said O'Connor, who was joined by other states' rights advocates.
While this decision is not unexpected, it is disappointing to me for many reasons. One is, that I am a states rights, limited governmet advocate and believe that this is something that should not be in the power of the federal government to control. Additionally, I think that medical marijuana is a very valid use and that it should be availible for patients. This is a perfect example of a case when the 'laboratory of the states' would have been able to help us actually assess the effects of this policy without the whole nation moving one way or the other. Sadly, this option has now been denied us.