Obama's Medical Marijuana Policy Issued

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  • #26
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Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything – and the federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers
Precedent is against Justice Thomas. The case of Wickard v. Filburn in 1935 established that, under very similar circumstances. In it, the Court held that a farmer growing his own wheat on his own land for his own personal use was subject to federal legislation under the Commerce Clause. That ruling essentially ended the idea that the federal Government is one of limited and enumerated powers, since virtually any action - or inaction - has some non-zero effect on interstate commerce.

You might not like this, but unless you can find 62 million people who agree with you: 51% of the population of 75% of the states, the minimum it takes to amend the Constitution, that's how things will stay.
 
  • #27
Al68
No, but you are arguing that he should be allowed to pick and choose what laws he will enforce and what laws he will not.
The U.S. Constitution vests all federal executive power in the President. That's his job. Enforcing all laws 100% has never been an option. He must "pick and choose".
Precedent is against Justice Thomas.
But the actual words of the constitution are not.
That ruling essentially ended the idea that the federal Government is one of limited and enumerated powers
The "idea" is still the actual supreme law of the land, whether it is honored or not.
 
  • #28
Al68
russ_watters said:
Anyway, I agree with him: if a law is on the books, it must be enforced. If a law is wrong, it should be challenged in the courts or repealed via the proper process. To order prosecutors not to do their jobs is unconstitutional.
Can you reference the specific part of the constitution? I can't seem to find it. And my dislike for Obama had me looking pretty hard.
Article 1, Section 1.
Art 1 Sec 1 says "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives."

Enforcement of law is executive power, not legislative power, and is vested entirely in the President.
 
  • #29
mheslep
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They should just enforce it legally, ie only in the cases where there is federal jurisdiction in the matter like D.C., military bases, crossing state lines, etc.

There is no need to repeal the law, any more than the State of Alabama would need to repeal their laws because they don't enforce then in Georgia. Any law is only valid where it has jurisdiction.

Declining to enforce federal laws where there is no constitutional federal jurisdiction should be the standard, not the rare exception.
Commerce clause. The feds have that jurisdiction:
By a vote of 6 to 3, the court ruled that Congress's constitutional authority to regulate the interstate market in drugs, licit or illicit, extends to small, homegrown quantities of doctor-recommended marijuana consumed under California's Compassionate Use Act, which was adopted by an overwhelming majority of voters in 1996.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06 [Broken]

I think I disagree w/ that ruling, and prefer Thomas in dissent:
In a separate dissent, Thomas added that if "the majority is to be taken seriously, the Federal Government may now regulate quilting bees, clothes drives and potluck suppers throughout the 50 states."
None the less because of that ruling the feds have authority.

Edit: I see now all this has already surfaced up thread.
 
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  • #30
mheslep
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The problem is that it is not easy to repeal this particular law due to the huge propoganda and brainwashing campaigns that have been going on for decades.
Easy or not, the legislative process by way of the people's representatives is the way to address this.
This damage must be undone of course, and it may take a while, but there is no reason for medical marijuana users to suffer in the meantime.
Clearly there is reason as has already been stated. The respect for rule of law suffers, and there will be widespread use of a drug completely outside the usual FDA process.
 
  • #31
mheslep
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Article 1, Section 1.
No, but you are arguing that he should be allowed to pick and choose what laws he will enforce and what laws he will not.
The U.S. Constitution vests all federal executive power in the President. That's his job. Enforcing all laws 100% has never been an option. He must "pick and choose".But the actual words of the constitution are not.The "idea" is still the actual supreme law of the land, whether it is honored or not.
Art 1 Sec 1 says "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives."

Enforcement of law is executive power, not legislative power, and is vested entirely in the President.
This entire line is about the separation of powers debate which could take over the thread. Its akin to Bush's signing statements. Congress indeed writes the laws, but Presidents have been pushing back saying in effect to Congress 'you may not usurp my executive authority in the act of writing these laws'. Congress replies 'you can not defacto rewrite the law in the act of enforcing it'. To be continued.
 
  • #32
mheslep
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... That ruling essentially ended the idea that the federal Government is one of limited and enumerated powers, since virtually any action - or inaction - has some non-zero effect on interstate commerce.
Ended for the moment, unfortunately

You might not like this, but unless you can find 62 million people who agree with you: 51% of the population of 75% of the states, the minimum it takes to amend the Constitution, that's how things will stay.
I dunno. Racial segregation had plenty of precedent and was eventually reversed. The Commerce Clause has been distorted beyond recognition. Some good cases and clever jurists might eventually undue the ills.
 
  • #33
mheslep
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Since you bring up constitution so much, can you tell me which part of the constitution allows there to be laws against people growing or possessing plants? It can be argued that the law against possession of marijuana itself is unconstitutional....
Jumping in ... The individual states unquestionably have the authority to regulate drugs and alcohol. THC in marijuana is a drug. The federal government through the the commerce clause (as stated) has also taken on that authority nationwide. Whether the states and the fed should have actually written these laws as they have is another matter, but they have the power.
 
  • #34
mheslep
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The law will still be enforced; only the focus of the enforcement will change.
Per the announcement, it is clear that any enforcement action against medicinal users will come to a halt.
 
  • #35
russ_watters
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Since you bring up constitution so much, can you tell me which part of the constitution allows there to be laws against people growing or possessing plants?
Congress has the power to pass laws for the common good. Making harmful drugs illegal is part of the public good. That's article 1, section 8.
It can be argued that the law against possession of marijuana itself is unconstitutional.
Go for it - and good luck.
Personally, I support legalization (not only for medicinal purposes), and regulation of it on a similar level as tobacco and alcohol. I don't know if that was the question though.
That's what I was getting at, yes. The reason I ask is that it seems to me that the medicinal marijuana issue is just an attempt at a red herring argument. A smokescreen to mask a further adjenda. It is my perception that all these absurd specious arguments we get are just part of that. People are throwing as much crap at the wall as they can, hoping something will stick. And, it seems, some of it actually is sticking - the arguments are specious and don't hold up in court, nevertheless, Obama's using it and California is using it. But again, that's the bigger issue to me. I'm not a big fan of pot either way, but I'm much more concerned about these violations of the rule of law. These types of issues with states rights and constitutional powers are how we ended up with slavery and a civil war. I thought we had moved past that.
Just to be clear, I am not advocating breaking existing laws. What Obama has done does not break any law as far as I am aware.
It is crystal clear that both California and Obama (not to mention the "clinics" themselves) are breaking federal law.

Something from earlier:
This damage must be undone of course, and it may take a while, but there is no reason for medical marijuana users to suffer in the meantime.
You do understand that even if the federal government decriminalizes marijuana for medicinal use, to eventually classify it similar to something like Tylenol, the state of California and those "clinics" are still in violation of federal law, right? In order to properly turn marijuana into a drug like Tylenol, it would take a decade at least to get through FDA approval. Considering how many cancer patients are screaming for new drugs, it is a pretty specious argument about medicinal pot users "suffering in the meantime".
 
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  • #36
russ_watters
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Art 1 Sec 1 says "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives."

Enforcement of law is executive power, not legislative power, and is vested entirely in the President.
Correct, that's another way to look at it. So either way you look at it, Obama is violating the Constitution. If you look at this order as in effect repealing a law, that's article 1, section 1. If you look at this as Obama failing to uphold his executive responsibility (choosing not to enforce a law is choosing not to uphold your executive responsibility), then he's in violation of Article 2, section 1.

Please understand: this is not a case of choosing how to enforce a law, it is a case of choosing not to enforce the law.

I think the first way is more straightforward, though.
 
  • #37
mheslep
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.. In order to properly turn marijuana into a drug like Tylenol, it would take a decade at least to get through FDA approval. ...
Agreed it needs regulation, but I doubt a decade. That kind of time is required for a new drug, but THC must be one of the most studied critters on the planet.
 
  • #38
dx
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Congress has the power to pass laws for the common good. Making harmful drugs illegal is part of the public good. That's article 1, section 8.
Who decides what is harmful and what is not? Are you aware that it has been known for a while that tobacco is far more harmful than marijuana? Why isn't tobacco illegal?

That's what I was getting at, yes. The reason I ask is that it seems to me that the medicinal marijuana issue is just an attempt at a red herring argument. A smokescreen to mask a further adjenda.
The medical effects of marijuana were found by doctors and researchers, not random people who just want to smoke pot. People who support legalization of course will use this as an opportunity to further their cause, but I don't think anyone in this category is masking their agenda.

It is my perception that all these absurd specious arguments we get are just part of that.
Which absurd arguments? The peer-reviewed and published research that shows the medical benefits of marijuana and its relative harmlessness?


Considering how many cancer patients are screaming for new drugs, it is a pretty specious argument about medicinal pot users "suffering in the meantime".
I don't know what your definition of 'suffering' is, but I think most people would agree that being prosecuted for using doctor recommended medicine is 'suffering'.
 
  • #39
russ_watters
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Actually, I think it's a descent into dictatorship. One person decides which laws are fair and just and which ones aren't.

This has been tried before, and like I said, it seldom ends well. (To connect it to science, this is what killed Antoine Lavoisier)
The title issue here is about Obama and yes, in that respect it is a descent into dictatorship. I was going further with the issue and just didn't explain myself. There are several other levels on which you can look at it, which have been at least implied in this thread:

State level: The thread is about an Obama decision, but it is an Obama decision about a state violation of federal law. Ie, it is a states rights issue. IMO, "states rights" is typically a red herring used by extremists to explain away violations of federal law and there is rarely any validity to the issues*. On general principles, few people are really states rights advocates: ie, if the federal government legalizes MJ, people drop the states rights issue.

Individual level: Why stop at the state? If a federal or state law is morally wrong, why can't an individual make that decision and disobey it? This is what I was alluding to as a path to anarchy. Because of the broad implications, civil disobedience must be used very carefully, in very special circumstances. This can go back up to the Presidential level too - Lincoln violated law and the Consitution, but it was the right thing to do. The typical examples of civil disobedience come from the civil rights movement. But pot isn't about civil disobedience on a moral issue. When MLK and his followers got arrested for sit-ins in diners, it wasn't because they were hungry for undercooked poached eggs, it was about the larger issues of racial segregation. The pot issue isn't like that. This is about stoners wanting to make it easier for themselves to be stoners, and that's it. Sorry, but even if they are right and the federal law is wrong, a stoner's right to get high is not an important enough reason to trash the Constitution.

*Texan secessionists take the most heat for pushing crackpot "states rights" issues, but by far the biggest "states rights" state is California. And from one issue to the next, you can see from how California handles the issues whether they are just being radicals, thumbing their nose at the FED or if they have a legitimate issue that the FED is failing to address. Pot is the former, clean air is the latter. What do you do if the government is legitimately wrong (as perhaps they are on clean air)? Sue them! Get the issue into the courts. http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/20/california.emissions/
 
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  • #40
turbo
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When my brother-in-law was suffering and dying from pancreatic cancer, his doctor prescribed Marinol - a spherical white gel-encapsulated pill that supposedly contained the active ingredients of marijuana. It did not restore his appetite or provide relief from pain and discomfort. He got relief from a very nice back-woods farmer lady that made pot brownies for him to help him get through his last weeks. I am very grateful to her for making that Maine Guide's last time here tolerable. He was an avid outdoorsman (red-neck, in other states, maybe) and a big-hearted guy who would do anything for his family. At the time, Maine had no medical marijuana laws, and I am so grateful that this lady took it upon herself to help him. He died in relative comfort at home, surrounded by his family and visited by friends, as often as could be accommodated. Like me, he was a Harley enthusiast, and would drop (about) everything to spend an evening fly-fishing when we thought there might be a good mayfly hatch on a pond in driving distance. He wasn't a slacker/stoner, but a hard-working family man, and I miss him greatly.
 
  • #41
lurflurf
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But pot isn't about civil disobedience on a moral issue.
It would seem that the principle that sick people should not be forced to suffer needlessly by moralizing buzy bodies is a larger issue.
 
  • #42
russ_watters
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Agreed it needs regulation, but I doubt a decade. That kind of time is required for a new drug, but THC must be one of the most studied critters on the planet.
Studied as a medicine or studied to determine its harm? This is interesting:
turbo-1 said:
When my brother-in-law was suffering and dying from pancreatic cancer, his doctor prescribed Marinol - a spherical white gel-encapsulated pill that supposedly contained the active ingredients of marijuana. It did not restore his appetite or provide relief from pain and discomfort. He got relief from a very nice back-woods farmer lady that made pot brownies...
I didn't know such pills existed, but in any case, the pill didn't work, but the brownies did. So was it a dosage issue or does the pill just not work for what it is supposed to do?

I'd never heard of Marinol, but it is a real medicine from a real pharma company, so perhaps you're right, mheslep, perhaps it would be quicker than 10 years.
 
  • #43
mheslep
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...*Texan secessionists take the most heat for pushing crackpot "states rights" issues, but by far the biggest "states rights" state is California. And from one issue to the next, you can see from how California handles the issues whether they are just being radicals, thumbing their nose at the FED or if they have a legitimate issue that the FED is failing to address. Pot is the former, clean air is the latter. What do you do if the government is legitimately wrong (as perhaps they are on clean air)? Sue them! Get the issue into the courts. http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/20/california.emissions/
Great point about Ca being the most radical on states rights, I completely agree. There are many more examples.
 
  • #44
russ_watters
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Who decides what is harmful and what is not?
In this case, the federal government.
Are you aware that it has been known for a while that tobacco is far more harmful than marijuana? Why isn't tobacco illegal?
Maybe it should be. But you're not interested in making tobacco illegal, you're interested in making marijuana legal. So I don't think you really want to go down that road with this discussion. :wink:
The medical effects of marijuana were found by doctors and researchers, not random people who just want to smoke pot. People who support legalization of course will use this as an opportunity to further their cause, but I don't think anyone in this category is masking their agenda.
I'll freely acknowledge not being real up on the extent of the research on MJ. Quite frankly, I'm not interested. If the case is good, fine: then the case should be made to the federal government to change the law. Again, this thread, to me, is more about the violation of federal law than it is about pot itself.
 
  • #45
russ_watters
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It would seem that the principle that sick people should not be forced to suffer needlessly by moralizing buzy bodies is a larger issue.
I think you missed my point. My point is that most people are making an issue of medical marijuana because they want to get high, not because they really care that much about medicines. If pot had a lot of medical uses but didn't make people high, we wouldn't be having this conversation. The moralizing is a smokescreen.
 
  • #46
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Are you aware that it has been known for a while that tobacco is far more harmful than marijuana? Why isn't tobacco illegal?
Because that isn't what the people of the United States of America, through their elected representatives, have decided. Simple as that.

Now, you might argue that they have made a bad decision, and I might even agree with you, but the remedy surely isn't that the President decides that his idea of how things should be somehow supersedes what the people, through Congress, think it should be.
 
  • #47
Al68
Correct, that's another way to look at it. So either way you look at it, Obama is violating the Constitution. If you look at this order as in effect repealing a law, that's article 1, section 1. If you look at this as Obama failing to uphold his executive responsibility (choosing not to enforce a law is choosing not to uphold your executive responsibility), then he's in violation of Article 2, section 1.

Please understand: this is not a case of choosing how to enforce a law, it is a case of choosing not to enforce the law.

I think the first way is more straightforward, though.
The power to choose which violations of federal law to prosecute, and which not to, is executive power, and is vested in the President. Prosecuting them all is simply not one of his choices, and is not required by Art 2, sec 1, for the obvious reason that it would be an impossible task.

I hate defending Obama, but prosecuting every violation of every law is just not one of his options, even if you disagree with the ones he chooses not to.
 
  • #48
Hepth
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Isn't this sort of blow out of proportion since Odgen's memo was advisement rather than order?

I don't see what the big deal is. I feel like some people are making it out to be ::
"Obama writes law stating not to prosecute illegal drug users."

when in reality it is:
David Ogden, an Obama-appointed Deputy Attorney General, advises in a memo to not focus federal resources on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana, though prosecutors are allowed wide discretion in which cases they choose to deem worthy of pursuit.

Right?
 
  • #49
russ_watters
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The power to choose which violations of federal law to prosecute, and which not to, is executive power, and is vested in the President. Prosecuting them all is simply not one of his choices, and is not required by Art 2, sec 1, for the obvious reason that it would be an impossible task.
That's patently absurd, at face value. The President cannot arbitrarily decide to throw out a law. Yes, the President must at least make a reasonable attempt to execute every law the Congress charges him to execute. It doesn't mean he must successfully prosecute every criminal, but he can't simply discard a law entirely.

The President is charged with carrying out the laws of Congress. Nowhere does it say the President is charged with carrying out the laws he feels like carrying out or the laws he agrees with or the laws he likes. There are no such qualifiers on his responsibility.

Here's a quote from a constitutional law textbook. It is plain as day (as it is from reading the consitution itself and applying some simple logic!):
The President is an agent selected by the people, for the express purpose of seeing that the laws of the land are executed. If, upon his own judgment, he refuse to execute a law and thus nullifies it, he is arrogating to himself controlling legislative functions, and laws have but an advisory, recommendatory character, depending for power upon the good-will of the President. That there is danger that Congress may by a chance majority, or through the influence of sudden great passion, legislate unwisely or unconstitutionally, was foreseen by those who framed our form of government, and the provision was framed that the President might at his discretion use a veto, but this was the entire extent to which he was allowed to go in the exercise of a check upon the legislation. It was expressly provided that if, after his veto, two-thirds of the legislature should again demand that the measure become a law, it should thus be, notwithstanding the objection of the Chief Executive. Surely there is here left no further constitutional right on the part of the President to hinder the operation of a law.
http://chestofbooks.com/society/law...he-President-To-Enforce-Laws-Believed-By.html
 
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  • #50
russ_watters
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Isn't this sort of blow out of proportion since Odgen's memo was advisement rather than order?
What's the difference between an "advisement" and an "order"?

And how is it ok for the President to "advise" his prosecutors to disregard federal law?
 

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