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Fair? Fair's got nothing to do with it.
January 31, 2003 8:02 PM   Subscribe

Ed Rosenthal found guilty. Is this man so harmful and dangerous to our society that he deserves a harsher sentence than child molesters?
posted by spazzm (77 comments total)

 


It would take a whopping big thesaurus for me to find adjectives strong enough to properly describe the sick sort of disgust I feel about this.

I can't get my mind around the idea that the prosecution in this case probably truly believe that they have done something morally righteous, and that thought fills me with horror. For the policy makers responsible for such an irrational and draconian sentence to go home afterwards and get a good night's sleep with smiles on their faces is nauseating.
posted by John Smallberries at 8:29 PM on January 31, 2003


That's a pretty fallacious question, really, especially if you don't think he deserves any sentence at all, but still, I have to agree with you--this is stupid.
posted by Fabulon7 at 8:44 PM on January 31, 2003


"There is no such thing as medical marijuana," said Richard Meyer, a DEA spokesman. "We're Americans first, Californians second".

That is pathetic. But I guess it's just so hard to get people motivated to fight against disgusting attitudes like this. I doubt we'll see a million man march against the drug war, but it would be good if it ever happened.
posted by Jimbob at 8:44 PM on January 31, 2003


Someday we'll look back at the drug war, as we now do with alcohol prohibition and segregation, and wonder "what the hell were they thinking?"
posted by lasm at 8:51 PM on January 31, 2003


Rage.
posted by Optamystic at 8:54 PM on January 31, 2003


Thank god with this monster safely behind bars, the scourge of teen pregnancy will finally be a thing of the past.
posted by jonson at 9:21 PM on January 31, 2003


Agreed, Optamystic. First outrage. Now simply rage.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:45 PM on January 31, 2003


"Indeed: KNOW YOUR DOPE FIEND. YOUR LIFE MAY DEPEND ON IT! You will not be able to see his eyes because of Tea-Shades, but his knuckles will be white from inner-tension and his pants crusted with semen from constantly jacking off when he can't find a rape victim. He will stagger and babble when questioned. He will not respect your badge. The Dope Fiend fears nothing. He will attack, for no reason, with every weapon at his command-- including yours. BEWARE. Any officer apprehending a suspected marijuana addict should use all necessary force immediately. One stich in time (on him) will usually save nine on you.


The Chief"
posted by trondant at 9:55 PM on January 31, 2003


I wonder if any of the jurists did any outside research about Mr. Rosenthal and his situation.
posted by botono9 at 10:06 PM on January 31, 2003


This is terrible. Here's Alexander Cockburn on the case: "The Right Not To Be In Pain."
posted by muckster at 10:11 PM on January 31, 2003


With such a travesty of injustice, how come we don't hear about this via the regular media? Aren't they supposed to expose such things?
posted by EmoChild at 10:28 PM on January 31, 2003


Something tells me this one is going to be appealed...
posted by ph00dz at 10:28 PM on January 31, 2003


Big fucking deal. This was the obvious outcome. It's not like it makes a difference. This country is not worth living in anymore, that's been pretty clear for a few years now, this is only yet another small example.
posted by Nothing at 10:31 PM on January 31, 2003


Sorry, and excuse me. I should not have posted before getting calmed down.
posted by Nothing at 10:33 PM on January 31, 2003




The state/federal disconnect and overzealous war on drugs is going to put this guy away until his dying day. Where the hell are the conservative "state's rights" crowd? Oh right, this involces pot not innocent fetuses and local environmental laws.
posted by skallas at 10:38 PM on January 31, 2003


To punctuate skallas's last link *** Judge does overtime as defense attorney. Give this man a raze!
posted by G_Ask at 11:31 PM on January 31, 2003


This part was amusing:
Millions of copies [of Ed's books] have been sold, mostly in the United States, with titles such as "The Growers Handbook," "The Big Book of Buds," and "Ask Ed: Marijuana Law. Don't Get Busted."
I'm guessing he won't sell copies of that last book as fast now..
posted by Edge100x at 12:06 AM on February 1, 2003


I entirely suspect that this case was "chosen". There are many other people the federal govt could have gone after. In choosing to go after Rosenthal, a deliberate decision was likely being made.

My guess is Rosenthal was chosen because it was decided this was a winnable case in whatever supreme court it will end up in.

I'd bet highly that this is a play that was decided several levels ahead of the local court conviction.

This challenge of federal vs states has been coming for some time now.
posted by rudyfink at 1:39 AM on February 1, 2003


Right on, Optamystic. Rage is all I know.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:28 AM on February 1, 2003


Sorry to be the lone voice here, but the pot cultivation laws in California are some of the strictest in the country. His pot crusade might well have been conducted in a more lenient state like Montana, or better yet from Vancouver, Amsterdam or India.

He knew the laws, and chose to disobey them. His cause might have been better served by campaigning to change the laws, which is his right in a free country.
posted by hama7 at 2:46 AM on February 1, 2003


hama7:
I'm not sure of the particulars of Carnifornia pot cultivation law, but the whole problem is that he is not tried for breaking californian law, but federal law.
Which would be fine, if the officials of Oakland city hadn't asked to do it. He worked for the city, within the ordinances of the city, and this fact he was expressively forbidden from mentioning under the trial.

If I understood that correctly, that is. I'm not well versed in US law.
posted by spazzm at 3:04 AM on February 1, 2003


What kind of trial is it if one is forbidden to mention facts that could have lead to ones aquittal anyway?
posted by spazzm at 3:06 AM on February 1, 2003


Here's the line: "Under strict orders from U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, Rosenthal was never able to tell the jury that he was growing marijuana as "an officer" for the city of Oakland's medical marijuana program."

As far as I can tell, the reason that "an officer" is in quotes is because it's not a real title, nor a position that carries any meaning outside Oakland. I may call you "Archduke spazzm", but that doesn't mean that you're entitled to grow pot in Humboldt, or wherever.
posted by hama7 at 3:17 AM on February 1, 2003


Could you start calling me 'Baron Wonderchicken?' That'd be cool.

I don't know the background on this case, but given that the Justice Minister in Canada has publically stated that he plans to push through decriminalization of marijuana there in the first quarter of this year, I find this sort of thing sad, and hard to believe.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:21 AM on February 1, 2003


Why thank you, that does have a ring to it.

But seriously:
If he was not really working for the city, why was he forbidden to say so?
posted by spazzm at 3:28 AM on February 1, 2003


Or more to the point:
If an accused is lying, isn't it normally the job of the prosecutor to point out the fallacy?
Why, then, does the judge in this case have to gag Rosenthal's defence?
posted by spazzm at 3:32 AM on February 1, 2003


decriminalization of marijuana there

Baron wonderchicken, this is exactly my point. Before the feds raid your pot farm, it might be a good idea to live where pot possession isn't going to land you 85 years in the pokey.

If he was not really working for the city, why was he forbidden to say so?

Archduke spazzm, it may have had no bearing in the proceedings, but I'm sure somebody will find something.

*waves a gloved hand magnanimously*
posted by hama7 at 3:38 AM on February 1, 2003


Rosenthals defence. Sorry.
posted by spazzm at 3:39 AM on February 1, 2003


Sorry, hama7, but he was acting as a legally designated entity, permitted by the city to grow marijuana.

Perhaps, hama7, you should learn a bit more about the California law here (or maybe bother to read the article?); what he was doing was perfectly legal under state law. He was prosecuted under federal law.

Before the feds raid your pot farm, it might be a good idea to live where pot possession isn't going to land you 85 years in the pokey.
Um.....that's anywhere in the US and has nothing to do with the state you live in.
posted by charlesv at 3:46 AM on February 1, 2003


hama7:
Isn't it up to the jury to decide wether a fact has bearing on the proceedings, not the judge?
And to decide this, doesn't the jury need to know the facts?
posted by spazzm at 3:51 AM on February 1, 2003


Moral of the story: Don't grow pot in the United States.

Possession in small quantities, however, in some states, without the intent to distribute isn't a federal crime.
posted by hama7 at 3:57 AM on February 1, 2003


I hope this isn't the end of the story.
Stories where family fathers get to spend the rest of their natural lives in jail for doing something to help others alleviate pain does not have a moral, IMHO.

Rosenthal is a defenceless victim in a battle between two parts of the goverment. Let the man go, he has done damage to nobody.
posted by spazzm at 4:16 AM on February 1, 2003


Let the man go, he has done damage to nobody

Try stealing a car and driving it across state lines: a federal offense. Damage to nobody?

It's debatable as to what damage this person has done by distributing contraband, but again, changing the laws is possible without breaking them.
posted by hama7 at 4:49 AM on February 1, 2003


He distributed cannabis to people who have a ligitimate (as in legal under state law) use for it.
He was told to do so by government officials.
Yet he is being punished (harshly) by the government for doing so.

How is it morally or legally right that those three statements are all true at the same time?

Isn't it our duty as human beings to at least try to help those in pain?

hama7:
You're right. It is possible to change the law without breaking it. By voting, for example, which is what the californians did when they legalized medical cannabis.
posted by spazzm at 5:02 AM on February 1, 2003


So, this dude is asked by an agent of the government (state) to grow this stuff. He's told it's completely legal, he's completely free to do it and that he'll get in no trouble. He accepts the word of an agent of the government (state). He's then busted and prosecuted by the feds. How is the fact that he's given assurances by agents of the government that he's completely within his rights to do so NOT a positive defence, at least something that can be offered to the jury? Also ... technically, couldn't you consider this entrapment? After all, this is something he would not dream of doing under normal circumstances (cough cough) unless urged to do so by government agents ...
posted by kaemaril at 5:13 AM on February 1, 2003


"We had no legal wiggle room," Sackett said.

Reminiscent of -

"Vee had no viggle voom" the officer told the tribunal. "Vee vas doink vat vee ver toldt!"
posted by LowDog at 5:16 AM on February 1, 2003


spazzm - 'What kind of trial is it if one is forbidden to mention facts that could have lead to ones aquittal anyway?'

well there was that ploughshares woman who was banned from using expressions like nuclear deterrent, weapons of mass destruction or nuclear holocaust in her defense. or something. sorry, can't remember her name. her defense was going to be to claim that her small amount of damage to a missile guidance system would prevent a whole lot more destruction to the world at large.
unlike the ploughshares four, she was not acquited of criminal damage to military equipment.

still, their crimes were in a different league from Rosenthal 'growing plants'.
posted by asok at 5:38 AM on February 1, 2003


From the article:

"A founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Rosenthal used to write the "Ask Ed" column for "High Times" magazine, and has researched and written nearly 20 books on marijuana.

Millions of copies have been sold, mostly in the United States, with titles such as "The Growers Handbook," "The Big Book of Buds," and "Ask Ed: Marijuana Law. Don't Get Busted." "
posted by mecran01 at 6:51 AM on February 1, 2003


No city, county or state can authorize someone to break federal law. That one is stupid enough to believe the contrary is no defense. (Rosenthal, obviously, was not so stupid -- his defense of reliance was disengeous, a bald-faced lie.)

Even were it not a lie, because federal law trumps local law, a "defense" of reliance upon local law is, obviously, not allowable, as it will prejudice the jury by tending to cause them to have doubt which is, under the law, not reasonable.

Once again, the objective of the medical marijuana movement is the total decriminalization of marijuana, including for recreational use. The movement is using people sick with glaucoma, cancer, and AIDS as a front.

Let NORML be honest and straightforward about their objectives and perhaps they will win. The argument that marijuana is not significantly worse than alcohol in terms of adverse health effects can be made, so why don't they just make it, and win or lose honestly?
posted by MattD at 8:01 AM on February 1, 2003


In a democracy the policies of the government is subject to the will of the people.

How come people are still being convicted for medical cannabis after a majority of the voters said it was legal?

And regarding the federal/state law argument:
Why not have a national referendum on medical marijuana and get it over with?
posted by spazzm at 8:42 AM on February 1, 2003


And I hate to have to point this out, but I think the objective for those in with cancer, glaucoma or AIDS in the medical marijuana movement is to alleviate pain.
Their own pain, as well as the pain of their fellow sufferers.

To say that they are really just acting as a front for someone else is callous, at best.
posted by spazzm at 8:45 AM on February 1, 2003


Ed was rightly convicted under the federal laws. If you support those federal laws you are either an idiot or a tyrant.
posted by quercus at 8:54 AM on February 1, 2003


And whatever happened to jury nullification?
posted by poseur at 10:47 AM on February 1, 2003


poseur - That's what I didn't get. The jury foreman and others wanted to take the circumstances into account but followed the judges orders. Why didn't at least one juror refuse? It only takes one.
posted by 2sheets at 11:47 AM on February 1, 2003


It seems to me that the Californian law SHOULD prevail in this case, based jurisdiction problem. This IS a full-fledged States' Rights case. Furthermore, it provides a good case with which to challenge some of the power of the Federal government, which (from my understanding) was origianlly intended to regulate inter-state trade and create a concerted foreign policy. In my humble opinion, the centralized power of the federal government greatly contributes to the social problems in the U.S. Having lived in smaller European countries, I have seen that the U.S. federal government is impossibly removed from public scrutiny and morality. Since federal laws govern such a huge body of people, those whom it doesn't accurately represent becomes a greater percentage. In this case, this unrepresented minority is the entire state of California. Increasing the power of the States and reducing the power of the Federal government would make the government more accountable to its people and, in my opinion, far more sane.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:15 PM on February 1, 2003


He distributed cannabis to people who have a ligitimate (as in legal under state law) use for it.
He was told to do so by government officials.
Yet he is being punished (harshly) by the government for doing so.

How is it morally or legally right that those three statements are all true at the same time?


One word: Federalism. California and The United States are two different sovereigns. The funny thing is that is case has absolutely nothing to do with the "War on Drugs," thus most all posts condemning the "War on Drugs" are sadly misplaced. Mr. Rosenthal was breaking Federal law (thus the DEA agent’s comment and the conviction), but the real question is: whose law applies? In order for Mr. Rosenthal to prevail California law must prevail and be applied. The irony is that in order for this happen we would have to take the same view of Federalism of staunch Conservatives (such as justices Thomas, Rehnquist and Scalia) who are likely to support long drug sentences (such as the one Mr. Rosenthal got) and to my knowledge do not support medical marijuana growth. I guess politics, drugs and the law make strange bedfellows.

The question then becomes what is most important smoking weed or the Federal Government's ability to protect all citizens against the tyranny of states (see the civil rights movements)? Considering there is no absolute right to grow weed or even smoke it for medial reasons (although I do support both contentions), I feel that the Federal Government's mission to protect all citizens is far more important. The battle against the "War on Drugs" will be not won in court, but rather in the legislature. I have decried may people's ludicrous arguments against the War on Drugs before on MIFI, why? The same reasons I do today. You are attacking nothing but a straw man and fighting on the wrong battle field. There is no right to smoke weed, but I fully support amending US drug policy because I feel it's unfair and anachronistic. The proper place to fight such law is on the national level in Congress. Mr. Rosenthal is as much a victim of "War on Drugs” as he is a victim of liberal views on federalism and the misguided anti-"War on Drugs" movement.

I support ending or at least changing the "War on Drugs," but I can't support miss-poor arguments like "it's my right to smoke weed" nor can I support the misguided efforts by well-meaning people nor can I support such a conservative view on federalism.

In my humble opinion, the centralized power of the federal government greatly contributes to the social problems in the U.S. Having lived in smaller European countries, I have seen that the U.S. federal government is impossibly removed from public scrutiny and morality.

In humble opinion, you are wrong and the greatest bulwark against tyranny is the Federal Government and the 14th Amendment. With out the Federal Government, the Civil Right movements would have succeed in securing basic rights for many Americans. For example, kaibutsu do you support black Americans' right to vote or do you support the holding in Brown v. Board of Ed.? Your post suggests you do not. Many have asserted that the Federalism fundamentally changed, but I disagree. States and localities continue to walk all over people's rights and conservatives use "states rights" to press there right-wing Christian agenda (just ask two men in Texas who what to left a lone to make their own decisions about sex in their own home or just ask women who want to have an abortion free from government interference). kaibutsu will protect them? Or kaibutsu, who will protect you?
posted by Bag Man at 1:40 PM on February 1, 2003


There is no right to smoke weed

No, there is a law against smoking weed. There's no expressly-outlined "right" to all kinds of things (most things, in fact) which people would strenuously object to there being a law against. Stating that there's "no right" to smoke weed is meaningless. By all means don't support the pro-legalisation groups, but do it on a matter of principle, not a lack thereof.
posted by biscotti at 3:13 PM on February 1, 2003


>With out the Federal Government, the Civil Right movements would have succeed in securing basic rights for many Americans.

I think its possible, but certainly not very easy, to differentiate between primary and secondary rights, the latter allowed to be controlled more by local politics and the former to be controlled more by the federal politics. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Also what biscotti said.
posted by skallas at 5:32 PM on February 1, 2003


Also, Cannabis Culture chimes in.
posted by skallas at 5:34 PM on February 1, 2003


How come federal law represents the opposite of the democratic will of the people? Isn't this country supposed to be a democracy?

Isn't anybody bothered by the fact that the voters in California said one thing, and the federal govt. replied "we know what's best for you, and anybody who disagrees is going to jail for a very, very long time"?
posted by spazzm at 5:53 PM on February 1, 2003


I have a feeling the feds know that what they are doing in this case is wrong, but if they let California get away with this, it's going to put a breach in the prohibition of medical marijuana in the rest of the country. And that would most likely mean the end of their cosy jobs.

But that's just a feeling I have, of course. In reality, the judge in this case just wants to help Rosenthal and his family, by gently showing him that what he did is wrong.

Anybody care to make a guess at the sentence?

My guess is that he'll get a stiff sentecne, but not high enough to justify the term 'rest of his natural life'. 4 decades, tops.
posted by spazzm at 6:05 PM on February 1, 2003


Spazzm -- the judge does not have that kind of discretion. The federal sentencing guidelines are quite specific, and are based upon the amount of drugs cultivated. Also, Rosenthal's long history as an avid promoter of illegal use and cultivation of marijuana will make it impossible for him to get the downward departures which might otherwise be available -- he has as much admitted a lifetime of violating narcotics laws.

Skallas -- we either have the supremacy clause or we do not. There is no Constitutional basis on which to allow the states to pick and choose which federal laws to obey. Potentially one could attack the federal narcotics laws as lacking a sufficient nexus with interstate commerce as to be constitutional, but that seems a far stretch.
posted by MattD at 6:48 PM on February 1, 2003


MattD:
You are right, of course. My estimate was based on the maximum that could be given without causing the public outcry that might follow when people hear the words 'rest of his natural life' on the news.

I don't think the interesting issue here wether federal law overrides state law (it does, obviously) - but wether federal law overrides the will of the people, as it was expressed in a free, open vote.
posted by spazzm at 8:48 PM on February 1, 2003


There is no right to smoke weed

Pursuit of happiness?
posted by kayjay at 9:31 PM on February 1, 2003


By all means don't support the pro-legalisation groups, but do it on a matter of principle, not a lack thereof.

I do support the pro-legalization, but I can't support arguments that hold it back. Why? Because bad arguments can hold back a cause more than no argument at all.

Example:

There is no right to smoke weed

Pursuit of happiness?


This argument turns off the very people that must be convinced to change the law. If you expect Congress or your local legislature to buy this, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might want to buy.
posted by Bag Man at 12:59 PM on February 2, 2003


federal law overrides the will of the people, as it was expressed in a free, open vote.

So are you proposing that the people of California should set national agenda or supercede Federal law? Perhaps you should read a case called McCulloch v. Maryland to get your answer (in that case it was the voice of the people of Maryland). Again, I support pro-legalization, but I don't think a wholesale assault on the Constitution is the right, or even the wisest, way to bring it about.
posted by Bag Man at 1:08 PM on February 2, 2003


I can't support arguments that hold it back. Why? Because bad arguments can hold back a cause more than no argument at all.

My only point was that your argument that "there is no right to smoke weed" doesn't make any sense, that's all. There's no right to take bubble baths either.
posted by biscotti at 2:57 PM on February 2, 2003


My only point was that your argument that "there is no right to smoke weed" doesn't make any sense, that's all. There's no right to take bubble baths either.

Yes, and the government can thus, freely regulate the taking of bubble baths. Just as the government can freely regulate driving and other legal activities, the government can freely regulate drugs. I find no textual or implied support for the smoking of weed in the Constitution. biscotti, do you? Since document and the body of law that gives us your rights does not support freely smoking weed, the government may regulate weed as much as it sees fit (even if it was legal).

biscotti, it's your attitude that takes away from the good arguments that might actually convince lawmakers to legalize weed or at least make drug laws that make more sense.

Of course I don't mean to assert that weed cannot ever be legalize (and I hope at least medical marijuana is), but it’s just not a "right" protect by the Federal Constitution.

Should it be a right? I’m note sure, but considering the Supreme Court held that access to food and shelter is a right, access to an illegal narcotic is unlike to be deemed a constitutionally protected right. This why arguing the smoking weed is a protect right is fairly foolish and why those in the government might be less than receptive to it.

biscotti, other than the your "pursuit of happiness" argument (which does not hold water) what part the Federal constitution or what part of a case law lends support to your arguments?
posted by Bag Man at 4:30 PM on February 2, 2003


Once again, the objective of the medical marijuana movement is the total decriminalization of marijuana, including for recreational use. The movement is using people sick with glaucoma, cancer, and AIDS as a front.

Speaking as someone who has gone through chemo treatments for cancer, and as someone who was recommended medical marijuana by an esteemed oncologist when nothing else would work to relieve my nausea (and it did work, and it worked very well, but it was illegal in my state, so my oncologist also offered to go to court on my behalf if I were ever caught with it, and I had to get it from the black market), and for all of the sick and dying people who need relief ...

Well, instead of hurling a few choice words, let me just say that Ed was doing this to help sick people, and I absolutely know this to be the case. The objective of many reformers is to fully legalize, but the objective of compassion clubs and caregivers is to help allieviate suffering. For most who are involved they are willing to defy any law which prevents them from doing this, as many sick people who rely on this need it, or they could possibly die. For many the law is secondary to helping the sick.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:57 PM on February 2, 2003


Bag Man: the "pursuit of happiness" argument wasn't mine. And I'm not clear on what your objection to my comment is. I haven't made any "arguments" here whatsoever, aside from pointing out the error of assuming that there's any relevance at all to the statement that "there is no right to smoke weed". There is no right to do all kinds of things, that doesn't mean that they should be illegal.

Just as the government can freely regulate driving and other legal activities, the government can freely regulate drugs.

The government can only regulate driving on public roads. It cannot regulate driving on private roads.

I find no textual or implied support for the smoking of weed in the Constitution

See the ninth amendment. "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The list of rights in the Constitution is not an exhaustive list of rights, nor is it meant to be. And, since I'm not American, know little of case law, and haven't made any "arguments" here, I'll leave discussion of the rest of your post to others.
posted by biscotti at 6:05 PM on February 2, 2003


bag man: even if the state can regulate or ban something, that doesn't make it a smart or useful thing to do. A state could presumably ban the use of tomatoes or bubble bath, but those would be stupid, useless (or worse) laws. States used to ban contraceptives, and those were stupid, useless laws even before they were overthrown. Some states ban self-serve pumps, and those are stupid, useless laws.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:06 PM on February 2, 2003


BagMan:
So are you proposing that the people of California should set national agenda or supercede Federal law?

No.
What I do propose is a national referendum on medical marijuana. The will of the American people must surely set the national agenda and supercede Federal law.

Given that the US is a democracy.
posted by spazzm at 6:29 PM on February 2, 2003


States used to ban contraceptives, and those were stupid, useless laws even before they were overthrown. Some states ban self-serve pumps, and those are stupid, useless laws.

This is a foolish argument. Why? Because there is implied support from the 14th due process right when read with several privacy causes of the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments that limits the government’s ability to legislate a person's liberty to have control of his or her sex life. Here we have an implied right, smoking weed is not one.

Which series of amendment imply the use of a plant to get high a constitutional right? I state again, if basic food and shelter is not a right (which it should be), how could smoking weed be one?

The list of rights in the Constitution is not an exhaustive list of rights,

True (as I too have indicated, please read my post. At least read the stuff you quote, as you will see I made this same exact point), but one needs still to be able to imply the right. As I state here:

I find no textual or implied support for the smoking of weed in the Constitution

Do you really think one can imply from the 9th Amendment the right to smoke pot? That's a stretch even for the most liberal judge or constitutional scholar.

What I do propose is a national referendum on medical marijuana.

This is exactly what I was talking about! This would be a perfect way to take it to the people and show politicians there drug legalization is stupid and unfair. I'm glad we agree.
posted by Bag Man at 7:26 PM on February 2, 2003


So am I, Bag Man, so am I.
posted by spazzm at 8:11 PM on February 2, 2003


Bag Man: It seems clear to me that laws should have a clearly-defined purpose and benefit, and shouldn't be implemented on the whim of the government, or based on faulty data. Just because a government can make laws against things doesn't mean they should do so without good reason. You seem to disagree with this, so I don't see much point in arguing with you. Prohibition was repealed without any need to show that drinking alcohol was a right, implied or otherwise, I don't see why marijuana should be any different (especially since marijuana can be shown quite conclusively to have fewer negative effects in terms of addiction and the like than alcohol and tobacco).
posted by biscotti at 8:15 PM on February 2, 2003


Bag Man, how about freedom of religion? There are various psychoactive substances, including cannabis, which are used as religious sacraments.
posted by Onanist at 8:41 PM on February 2, 2003


government can make laws against things doesn't mean they should do so without good reason.

I do agree with this point. I think a lot of drug laws are stupid (as I have stated many times), but a stupid law don't amount to an unconstitutional law.

Prohibition was repealed without any need to show that drinking alcohol was a right

This was a policy choice, not a constitutional mandate, just has anti-drug laws are a policy choice (for public health), but a pretty stupid one s you correctly point out.

how about freedom of religion

A pretty good argument, but the Supreme Court has rejected it. However, that would not cover recreational or medical use.
posted by Bag Man at 8:46 PM on February 2, 2003


Bag Man: I didn't say that I thought people had some sort of right to smoke weed. I don't think they do. The state laws against pot are perfectly legitimate, just supremely stupid and useless, and they ought to be repealed for their stupidity and uselessness, not declared unconstitutional.

You might be able to make the case that a federal law banning possession of any amount of pot is unconstitutional because there's nothing in Article 1 Section 8 that gives them that power directly and that the interstate commerce clause requires a stronger connection to interstate commerce -- given the Court's recent decision in Lopez, they might even bite.

spazz: There's no provision in the US Constitution for referenda.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:48 PM on February 2, 2003


biscotti, I'd like it if you read my posts...thanks. I making a legal and intellectual point about the limits of the Constitution...but then again that's not the way you’re arguing which suggests that you have read much of what I said.

given the Court's recent decision in Lopez

I know lopez, but buying pot or growing pot for sale is an economic active (the exchange of $$), and the court in lopez allows regulation of economic activity. Hence, the jurisdictional nexus for Congress to regulate pot.
posted by Bag Man at 8:54 PM on February 2, 2003


a stupid law don't amount to an unconstitutional law.

I never claimed the law was unconstitutional, just that your statement that there was no right to smoke weed wasn't a good argument against decriminalisation.
posted by biscotti at 8:56 PM on February 2, 2003


Ban Man: You're arguing against your own version of what my original point was, you seem uninterested in my explanation that my point wasn't what you decided it was, and then you get annoyed when I won't argue the point I never made in the first place?
posted by biscotti at 9:08 PM on February 2, 2003


poseur & 2sheets:

the courts generally use voir dire to get rid of anyone who's ever remotely heard of nullification. especially for marijuana cases.

and even if they don't, a lot of the time the judge will basically make the jurors feel that if they don't agree with his instruction for what the "right" verdict should be, then they will be in big trouble, contempt, whatever.

I think that the type of people who believe in nullification are most likely strong willed enough not to be cowed by the judge or any veiled threats. but in this case the court probably made double extra sure that no such people even got near being on the jury...
posted by dorian at 9:16 PM on February 2, 2003


and for those of you USians not familiar with jury nullification, please read up on it.

considering how near-useless voting has become (I loved that article on alternate voting systems a while back!), jury duty coupled with the knowledge of nullification is one of the few real methods of change left, that we can provide to our country as citizens.
posted by dorian at 9:28 PM on February 2, 2003


A pretty good argument, but the Supreme Court has rejected it. However, that would not cover recreational or medical use.

As far as medical use, it comes down to the right to life and happiness. Quite a few people would die without it. Denying those people the medicine that will ease their suffering and keep them alive is not only unconstitutional, it is unconscionable.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:26 AM on February 3, 2003


My only point was that your argument that "there is no right to smoke weed" doesn't make any sense, that's all.

biscotti, this statement, made by you, indicates that you think it a good argument that weed is protected as a "right." Where do rights come from? At least in the US they from the Constitution (express or implied) and case law. Thus, if smoking weed is your right, that must be constitutional protected.

As far as medical use, it comes down to the right to life and happiness.

One has no constitutional right to medical treatment. Any access to medical treatment comes from salutatory law.
posted by Bag Man at 11:36 AM on February 3, 2003


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