Bad medicine
August 7, 2008 10:46 PM   Subscribe

The owner of a California medical marijuana dispensary has been found guilty of violating federal drug laws. [LA Times] FTA: ...jurors had a clear sense that Lynch was not an ordinary street-corner drug dealer, but the fact that he was dispensing medical marijuana didn't matter under federal law. [...] "It was a tough decision for all of us because the state law and the federal law are at odds." Detailed coverage of the trial by Reason TV. Federal raids on California's medical dispensaries were recently featured on MeFi.
posted by kid ichorous (80 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not too surprising. State's rights are useful for fighting gay marriage and reproductive choice, but not so convenient when states enact medical prescription laws. In the end, conservative activist judges are in charge throughout the various levels of federal government.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:51 PM on August 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


It's always tough to vote your conscience when there is no trade off? Only if you're an amoral asshole who is unsure of which dictator to worship.
posted by Brian B. at 10:53 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Christ, this is just so stupid. Prosecutors grandstanding for their political masters and DEA bureaucrats looking for promotions and no one caring that they're destroying Federalism and a guy's life.

All to prevent someone with cancer from dying peacefully. Someone poor, anyway as the rich can just scoot over the 12 mile limit and toke up on their yachts.

All to keep selling the drug war.
posted by orthogonality at 10:56 PM on August 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


U.S. out of California!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:57 PM on August 7, 2008 [16 favorites]


A case study on how not to open a dispensary. Local weekly has photos of the grand opening.
posted by hortense at 11:06 PM on August 7, 2008


The war on terror and crap in Iraq is awful, but at least military actions potentially have purpose. But there is no possible purpose to this. One day people will look back on this "war on drugs" and mandatory minimums and think of this as the Dark Ages. It's just fucking insane.

I wish Obama would have the balls to do something about it, but I know he won't. Maybe his Supreme Court appointees will though.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:09 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


A clear example where jury nullification should have been applied if there ever was one.
posted by chillmost at 11:15 PM on August 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


In the end, conservative activist judges are in charge throughout the various levels of federal government.

Unfortunately, with the Raich decision, Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer join Kennedy and Scalia in that box, and we lost the 2 of the 3 dissenters, O'Connor and Rehnquist.

Justice Thomas, awakening from an 8 year slumber, uttered:
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. This makes a mockery of Madison's assurance to the people of New York that the "powers delegated" to the Federal Government are "few and defined", while those of the States are "numerous and indefinite.
OTOH, the cops came by last month after some neighborhood delinquents decided our complex's pool would be a great place to party at 1AM on a Friday night. Cops busted them with pot, and I think I overheard the cop explaining to the partier that his medical marijuana card was not a party pass good everywhere. They let them go with just a warning, but I am tempted to join the non pot-head community doesn't want to live in an experiment to see what happens if & when we fully legalize it. Being a left-libertarian, I can see both sides of the question.
posted by yort at 11:17 PM on August 7, 2008


I suppose this case was lost at jury selection when they found too many jack booted thugs willing to serve on the jury.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:30 PM on August 7, 2008


Pot isn't the issue, it's personal responsibility. The same thing that empowers us to buy / sell alcohol. I'm from the "do whatever you want, just not on my lawn" category.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:32 PM on August 7, 2008


Oh no, Reason TV explains the judge basically didn't allow any evidence favorable to the defense. I hope this will be overturned on appeal.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:33 PM on August 7, 2008


I'm sure it was a tough decision, to allow federal law to trump state law in the face of all U.S. legal precedent preferring state law over federal law when the two are, as they say, "at odds." Yeah, that definitely does make it tough, because of the fact that it's, you know, tough to justify making a decision which goes against the law you're supposed to uphold.

Oh, shit, nevermind. It's about drugs.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:34 PM on August 7, 2008


yort writes "They let them go with just a warning, but I am tempted to join the non pot-head community doesn't want to live in an experiment to see what happens if & when we fully legalize it."

It has been, for all practical purposes, legal in California for the last twelve years. Aside from completely wiping out street weed dealers, it hasn't been the end of the world here. It certainly shows that all the scaremongering about legalization was just that.
posted by mullingitover at 11:34 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


This was also the first year since 2002 in which Congress let the Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment (which would prevent the DEA from carrying out these kinds of raids) expire without a vote. However, there's still H.R. 5842, which would move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, allowing it to be legally prescribed on a Federal level. Re-scheduling is pretty much the best hope for medical marijuana in America -- it would remove the state/federal conflict, and put marijuana on an even footing with opiates, amphetamines, and other drugs which are legal only with a prescription. It would also open up marijuana to research; right now there's a catch-22, as the government has claimed that there's not enough research to support moving marijuana to Schedule II, while simultaneously stifling new research because, of course, marijuana isn't Schedule II!

If you support medical marijuana, please click here to send a free email to your Congressman in support of H.R. 5842. While you're at it, please consider donating to MPP and/or MAPS. Much of the progress we've made on this issue stems directly or indirectly from the tireless work of these two groups.

I am tempted to join the non pot-head community doesn't want to live in an experiment to see what happens if & when we fully legalize it.

Yes, it would be a crying shame if we traded our existing situation (a massive black market, armed drug-cultivating gangs in National Parks, and violent raids on caregivers and sick people, among many other problems) for the occasional Friday night pool party. Good call.

Or, to put it another way: "pot-heads" are not particularly known for shooting people. People who operate large-scale black-market drug rings are well-known for it, however, and so are cops completing no-knock drug raids. I'm no fan of the circus that California's lax medical marijuana laws have created, but better a circus than a violent prison state.
posted by vorfeed at 11:39 PM on August 7, 2008 [9 favorites]


I'm no fan of certain legalization organizations, but the overzealous pursuit of crimes involving marijuana, considering its low level of toxicity and high level of medicinal benefit, is wasteful, infuriating and ridiculous.

Why are we as a nation, so utterly married to the idea that something that may potentially give someone pleasure is automatically "evil" to the point it negates any overwhelming good it may confer? Maybe it's cultural myopia, but I'm under the impression that "reefer madness" has long since been dismissed as a joke. Maybe it hasn't, I don't know.

I've certainly smoked my share recreationally, and it had both positive and negative effects, but I guarantee it's not hurting me as much as the beer I'm drinking now. But I'm not worried about myself, and I don't give one iota of a shit about getting high.

I'm thinking of my sister when she was going through chemo. I'm thinking of my friends who have struggled with HIV and AIDS, and of other family members and friends with countless other with glaucoma. Fuck it, I'm thinking of myself when I had the flu and it was the only thing that mitigated the awful pain and allowed me to retain fluids. I'm thinking of people who could, and who deserve to, have their suffering treated with the full respect it deserves with no regard to our national fetish for the elimination of SIN v. the real quality of life.

It's 2008. Why can't we advance the knowledge we have to make people's lives better? Oh. RIGHT.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:41 PM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


OTOH, the cops came by last month after some neighborhood delinquents decided our complex's pool would be a great place to party at 1AM on a Friday night.....They let them go with just a warning, but I am tempted to join the non pot-head community doesn't want to live in an experiment to see what happens if & when we fully legalize it.

Huh? You mean the hordes of delinquents who will lay waste to the integrity of the country by smoking weed outside? If you look at the few countries where pot is nominally legal--Holland, (western) Canada--you won't see people toking up outside (ok, actually, you will see that, but not so much). My point is the vast majority of folks partake inside, whether that be a home or a hash bar. Even in those countries it's still a bit taboo to flaunt it.

Random delinquents notwithstanding, most people are gonna toke up privately. Sorry for the trouble with your pool and all, but you have to admit that kind of behavior is more likely to happen with drinkers than smokers.
posted by zardoz at 11:42 PM on August 7, 2008


I'm sure it was a tough decision, to allow federal law to trump state law in the face of all U.S. legal precedent preferring state law over federal law when the two are, as they say, "at odds."

As I understand it, the constitutional underpinning of federal drug laws is a relatively wide reading of the interstate commerce clause, which circumscribes state authority in transactions between states and other states, other countries, and "Indian tribes."

What exactly does this have to do with plants grown in California, sold in California, and consumed in California?
posted by kid ichorous at 11:43 PM on August 7, 2008


Less snarkily, let me add that the way politics works,If Obama doesn appointing judges is the best way a President has of getting rid of outdated laws. It's much harder to get rid of laws than it is to create them, even when, as in the case of pot laws, the original purpose was to protect white firls from cavorting with negroes.

If Obama doesn't say anything on the matter, it's because he's, you know, trying to win the presidency, which would be greatly hindered by him speaking out on this matter and would do very little to move congress on it. He has to start by getting rid of mandatory minimums, and then support those states which choose to decriminalize, so that the rest of the nation will follow. Judicial nominees are the way to do this.

Unless I'm very mistaken, the "War on drugs" will be quietly dismantled in Obama's term(s), because thats the way it has to happen.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:44 PM on August 7, 2008


Wouldn't a decent consitution delineate who has the power here?
posted by pompomtom at 11:45 PM on August 7, 2008


Just to clarify my last statement: my own state of New Mexico has medical marijuana now (Gov. Richardson himself did a surprising amount to give his personal support to the bill), and we are making progress toward a system which will have none of the problems that have plagued California. It's quite possible to give marijuana to genuinely sick people without also handing it out to all and sundry -- our law does it by limiting the number of conditions which qualify for the program, and by providing a medical oversight board which can add other conditions if doctors recommend them.
posted by vorfeed at 11:46 PM on August 7, 2008


kid ichorus: you'd hope that Chief Justice Roberts would follow your reasoning, given that in his term as a circuit court judge he beat back the commerce clause defense of protections for an endangered California tree frog which only exists in California, but then, that was an environmental issue, and this is a drug issue.

So, you know, apples and oranges.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:53 PM on August 7, 2008


Wouldn't a decent consitution delineate who has the power here?

Yes, it would. Limited, enumerated federal power was first thought to be implicitly obvious, and was soon spelled out explicitly to make things extra clear. But nobody pays attention to that part of the Constitution anymore; the concept of "State's rights" may have been sullied forever when a certain collection of states picked nearly the worst conceivable "right" to fight for.

Of course, it took a while for that de facto change to sink in; even half a century later people still insisted that the federal government couldn't assert this kind of power without a constitutional amendment.
posted by roystgnr at 12:01 AM on August 8, 2008


I am a regular marijuana user.

I have medical permits.

But I'll still be the first to admit that for the most part, "medical" marijuana is a ruse. It's just another way to get it legalized. Just like "intelligent design" is just a smokescreen for teaching the bible.

Yes, it has medicinal value.. but no doctor in his right mind would tell his patient to inhale burning particles of plant matter. Marinol has been available for prescription 1986, but medical proponents will rarely address this little-prescribed pharmaceutical.

As a nation long ago we realized that Marijuana is for all intents and purposes, harmless. Unfortunately as a government, it's still mostly the same people in power since most of "the people" came to this realization. In a few generations, maybe we will see the rescheduling of Cannabis, but not now..

And while we're on the subject, dispensaries are just too visible a distribution method. Oregon's system, allowing for large amounts to be carried on the person and for an honestly absurd amount allowed to be grown for card carriers has met little federal resistance. But California just openly sells it out of stores, so of course the feds are going to notice..
posted by mediocre at 12:01 AM on August 8, 2008


I'd read that Obama supported decriminalizing marijuana (not just medical marijuana) but doing some quick googling I found this
"If you're convicted of a crime, you should be punished, but that we are sending far too many first-time, nonviolent drug users to prison for very long periods of time, and that we should rethink those laws," Vietor said, blaming the confusion in defining Obama's position on an unclear definition of decriminalization.
According to this page Obama supports medical marijuana and opposes federal raids on medical marijuana facilities that don't violate state law.

All he would have to do would be to direct his DOJ not to do these raids, he wouldn't have to expend any political capital to do it. I think, frankly, it's fairly likely. He's not Clinton, who was very anti-drug despite being a former pot user.
posted by delmoi at 12:06 AM on August 8, 2008


I am tempted to join the non pot-head community doesn't want to live in an experiment to see what happens if & when we fully legalize it.

What? Why? What exactly are you afraid will happen if pot gets legalized?

Some kind of terrorist attack on the National Strategic Dorito Reserve or something?
posted by Avenger at 12:11 AM on August 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


Navel, one counterpoint would be that frogs, and, for that matter, gypsy moths and air pollution, are able to cross state lines chaotically and outside of human transactions; therefore, the only way that the federal government could ever control the interstate "commerce" of these things is on the intrastate level.

Marijuana, unless fertilized in open fields, can only cross state lines when people process it, pack it into a car, and drive it. I think this leaves ample opportunity to regulate the plant at border crossings.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:16 AM on August 8, 2008


He's not Clinton, who was very anti-drug despite being a former pot user.

That would be precisely why he had to come down on it hard, no? He was a bad kid! He learned the error of his ways! etc.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:21 AM on August 8, 2008


^ Navel, what I'm trying to say above is that, from your example, it sounds like Roberts has it backwards, at least by my reasoning.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:30 AM on August 8, 2008



Yes, it has medicinal value.. but no doctor in his right mind would tell his patient to inhale burning particles of plant matter. Marinol has been available for prescription 1986, but medical proponents will rarely address this little-prescribed pharmaceutical

This is anecdotal, but I've always been under the impression that Marinol is infrequently prescribed because it's notoriously innefective.

I don't know if I would necessarily advocate smoking the stuff medicinally, but the active ingredients are easily extractible with fats (like buttah.) If a yutz like myself can do it in my own kitchen, certainly a lab can do it with great precision.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:30 AM on August 8, 2008


Yes, it has medicinal value.. but no doctor in his right mind would tell his patient to inhale burning particles of plant matter. Marinol has been available for prescription 1986, but medical proponents will rarely address this little-prescribed pharmaceutical.

Sorry, but this is bullshit. Marinol is well-known within the medical marijuana community. It is not popular, either with doctors and patients (except as a legal "cover" for medical whole-marijuana use), because it has several serious problems. First of all, it's in pill form, which makes it difficult to titrate the dose (i.e. patients tend to end up flat on their back stoned out of their gourds; Marinol is infamous for having much stronger and longer-lasting psychoactive effects than ordinary marijuana does). The pill delivery method also makes it impossible to take if you can't hold down what you swallow, which is a serious disadvantage for a drug that's often prescribed for the nausea and lack of appetite caused by chemotherapy, AIDS complications, and the like. Also, Marinol is not the same thing as whole-plant marijuana. It contains only THC, whereas whole marijuana has more than fifty different cannabinoids, some of which have been found to be more (or less) effective medicine for different ailments. Research has also suggested that these compounds, when taken together, create a synergistic effect. Lastly, Marinol costs a fortune, whereas marijuana may be purchased for far less, or even grown for free.

Sativex is a new, whole-marijuana sub-lingual spray that may prove to be a better delivery method than Marinol, though there are still problems with it.

You're right about one thing, though -- no doctor in his right mind would tell a patient to smoke marijuana. He would tell them to eat it or to vaporize it, both of which eliminate the problems associated with smoking.
posted by vorfeed at 12:42 AM on August 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


I own what is probably the best vaporizer on the market, and although it's certainly the worlds greatest device for it's purpose.. I still dont' know if I would use it if I were terminally ill, it still creates some horrific coughing fits..

Consumption certainly works, but amounts are difficult to estimate. You could think you put in just enough to take care of your malady, but end up unable to walk..

What I'm saying is that if there is going to be genuine medical use, it needs a lot more study and more controllable forms of dosage.
posted by mediocre at 1:10 AM on August 8, 2008


but no doctor in his right mind would tell his patient to inhale burning particles of plant matter

Well it ain't going to give you lung cancer, if that's what you're worried about.
posted by nudar at 1:12 AM on August 8, 2008


What exactly does this have to do with plants grown in California, sold in California, and consumed in California?

Because by doing that you're not buying marijuana from a drug dealer whose product frequently imported from out of state, thus interfering with (illegal) interstate commerce.
posted by Tenuki at 1:53 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Curious, dirty foreigner here sticking his nose in.

Is there any reason why the defense can't argue jury nullification of the federal law since it's clearly at odds with the states?

My understanding is that even though the supremacy clause says that the constitution, treaties and federal law are the law of the land, the tenth amendment says that unless the constitution explicitly says the feds can do something it'll revert back to the states.

Not making assumptions. I'm here to learn.
posted by Talez at 1:53 AM on August 8, 2008


Talex: Is there any reason why the defense can't argue jury nullification of the federal law since it's clearly at odds with the states?
I'd always thought (in the absence of any training whatsoever as a law-talking guy) that defense attorneys can't bring up the issue of nullification during arguments. The Wikipedia article on nullification seems to indicate that is at least partially the case:
The 1895 decision in Sparf v. U.S. written by Justice John Marshall Harlan held that a trial judge has no responsibility to inform the jury of the right to nullify laws. It was a 5-4 decision. This decision, often cited, has led to a common practice by United States judges to penalize anyone who attempts to present legal argument to jurors and to declare a mistrial if such argument has been presented to them. In some states, jurors are likely to be struck from the panel during voir dire if they will not agree to accept as correct the rulings and instructions of the law as provided by the judge.

Recent court rulings have contributed to the prevention of jury nullification. A 1969 Fourth Circuit decision, U.S. v. Moylan, affirmed the right of jury nullification, but also upheld the power of the court to refuse to permit an instruction to the jury to this effect. In 1972, in United States v. Dougherty, 473 F.2d 1113, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling similar to Moylan that affirmed the de facto power of a jury to nullify the law but upheld the denial of the defense's chance to instruct the jury about the power to nullify. In 1988, the Sixth Circuit upheld a jury instruction that "There is no such thing as valid jury nullification." In 1997, the Second Circuit ruled that jurors can be removed if there is evidence that they intend to nullify the law, under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 23(b). The Supreme Court has not recently confronted the issue of jury nullification.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 3:31 AM on August 8, 2008


So let me understand this correctly: in the USA, jurors can be lied to by the judge?

WTF?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:38 AM on August 8, 2008


To all the people worried about civilisation ending if smoking some silly plant gets legalised:

Pot has been legal to smoke, own, sell and grow here for all practical purposes for decades. The biggest problem with it is all the damn Italians and Brits that come here in the summer, get stoned and wander into the bike lanes when I'm late for work...

And pot or no pot, teenagers will have pool parties at 1 AM, no matter where you are. It's what they *do*

So stop drinking the war-on-drugs cool-aid. It's stupid and has absolutely no positive sides.
posted by Djinh at 3:55 AM on August 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


Here is the way it seems to me: It would be taken much more seriously if the advocates of medical marijuana were all doctors, chemo patients, and others with serious medical conditions. But so many of the proponents seem to have the prime motive of just wanting to get stoned legally that their arguments have a disingenuous aura about them, even more so when the subject is legalization of hemp. Having said that, my guess is that medical marijuana can probably be useful to some.

The main problem I see with the legalization of recreational marijuana is that there is no breath or blood test to ensure people aren't driving on the streets impaired. After all, they don't call it dope for nothing. With alcohol, it is possible (and often the case) that people have a social drink or two and not be impaired. If someone wants wants to get stoned and zone out to Cartoon Network for a few hours, I don't see any harm to society that warrants sending them to prison and creating a blot on their record that haunts them for the rest of their lives. Just stay on the couch and don't get behind the wheel, OK?

My impression is that most dope smoking is done by people when they are younger and that they grow out of it when responsibilities no longer allow time in their schedules for being stoned. Any thoughts on that?
posted by Daddy-O at 6:21 AM on August 8, 2008


For those who are wondering about the legal rationale behind Congress' ability to regulate the sale or possession of a substance that hasn't passed across state lines under the interstate commerce clause, the case you're looking for is Gonzales v. Raich.

Essentially, the argument is that marijuana in general is a popular commodity that gets traded across state lines quite a bit. The fact that it is illegal to trade it doesn't change that fact. The court then drew on a case from 1942 called Wickard v. Filburn which states that Congress can regulate individual growers (in this case of wheat), even if their product doesn't cross state lines, as long as the individual rules form a part of an overall scheme to regulate the interstate market. So since the wheat grower in Wickard was growing wheat for himself that he wasn't allowed to, he was therefore not buying wheat off the market, therefore disrupting the government's control over the interstate commerce. The same thing applies in Raich, except there the government is not attempting to regulate the commerce in marijuana, but instead end it entirely.
posted by Inkoate at 6:29 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I own what is probably the best vaporizer on the market, and although it's certainly the worlds greatest device for it's purpose.. I still dont' know if I would use it if I were terminally ill, it still creates some horrific coughing fits..
Consumption certainly works, but amounts are difficult to estimate. You could think you put in just enough to take care of your malady, but end up unable to walk..
What I'm saying is that if there is going to be genuine medical use, it needs a lot more study and more controllable forms of dosage.


It seems to me that what you're saying is "I smoke to get high, and do not understand that medical patients don't smoke to get high." Most patients have very little trouble working out a dosage regimen, either with a vaporizer (you get few or no coughing fits from small, careful hits, and some coughing is still better than glaucoma or AIDS complications) or orally (once a patient has some experience in making marijuana butter, tincture, or tea, this is quite do-able. Dosing for the first time with a brand new batch of butter/tincture/tea might involve some guesswork to allow for potency, but after that patients can quickly work out a dosage. Most people end up taking roughly the same dose each time, anyway.)

What I'm saying is that if there is going to be genuine medical use, it needs a lot more study and more controllable forms of dosage.

Medicine doesn't have to be corporate. I'm all for more study (as if there's some marked lack of it), but your argument seems to keep coming back to "well, it'll be fine once Merck puts their name on it and charges $300 an ounce", and that's crap. People have been using medical marijuana in this country since long before it was illegal. They will most likely continue using it in its whole form whether or not it ever becomes legal, and even whether or not it is released in "more controllable forms of dosage". Our choice here is pretty much harm reduction or nothing -- people are not going to stop noticing that it's simpler and cheaper to self-medicate with marijuana just because somebody puts out Marijuanavex(TM) or whatever.
posted by vorfeed at 6:30 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's been said before, but...

Making nature illegal is just one example of how profoundly stupid human beings can be, in regards to how we see our world.

There are many reasons that marijuana remains illegal in America, but the intoxication effects are fairly low on that list.
posted by dbiedny at 6:31 AM on August 8, 2008


Jury nullification is, TTBOMK, absolute be it on the federal or state level. IANAL of course.
posted by Skorgu at 6:42 AM on August 8, 2008


I was gonna snark about this post but then I got hah.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 6:46 AM on August 8, 2008


in the face of all U.S. legal precedent preferring state law over federal law when the two are, as they say, "at odds."

You must live in an interesting timeline. In mine (Neil Armstrong, 5 Djumada 'l-Ula, 1389), the states kept losing almost without exception from 1356 onward.

Unfortunately, with the Raich decision, Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer join Kennedy and Scalia in that box, and we lost the 2 of the 3 dissenters, O'Connor and Rehnquist.

Not really. I think the justices understood, except maybe for Thomas, that the case was probably more about the Civil Rights Act and the Clean Air Act and minimum wage legislation and child labor laws than it was about medical marijuana. The liberal justices weren't about to call into question the only thing that allows the federal government to step in and un-fuck what state governments have a longstanding habit of getting disastrously and immorally wrong.

What exactly does this have to do with plants grown in California, sold in California, and consumed in California?

Even purely intrastate commerce that affects interstate commerce, for example by having the potential to change prices, is susceptible to federal regulation. This is the same constitutional interpretation that lets the feds require locally-owned restaurants serving locally-sourced food to accept black customers.

Wouldn't a decent consitution delineate who has the power here?

It does, since 1937 anyway. The feds do, since nearly all commerce affects interstate commerce.

So let me understand this correctly: in the USA, jurors can be lied to by the judge?

No. Jury nullification isn't, AFAIK, strictly legal. When you sit down in a jury you take oaths to arrive at the true verdict. Jury nullification means lying to the judge -- you think that the person accused really did do the acts he is accused of doing, but you think the law is stupid or immoral so you lie to the judge and say he didn't do what you actually think he did do.

Of course the defense attorney can't say "If you think he did it, but agree with me that the law is stupid and wrong, go ahead and tell the judge he didn't do it anyway because the judge can't do anything about it."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:49 AM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Daddy-O, read this.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:14 AM on August 8, 2008


Read it, Meatbomb. Could you expand a little on what your thoughts are?
posted by Daddy-O at 7:23 AM on August 8, 2008


OTOH, the cops came by last month after some neighborhood delinquents decided our complex's pool would be a great place to party at 1AM on a Friday night. ... doesn't want to live in an experiment to see what happens if & when we fully legalize it.

There's a movement to legalize trespassing? Sweet.

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me,
Sign was painted, said "Private Property"
But on the back side it didn't say nothin',
This land was made for you and me!


-Woody Guthrie, one of the verses of This Land Is Your Land they don't tell you in elementary school
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:27 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


My impression is that most dope smoking is done by people when they are younger and that they grow out of it when responsibilities no longer allow time in their schedules for being stoned. Any thoughts on that?

That's true for me for the most part, though given more time/opportunity, that would be my chillout method of choice. I think it just depends on the person, though. I know professionals of all stripes and at least know of quite a few people you could call senior citizens still smoke. Then there are some people are just really, really functional on the stuff and don't really do it to chill. I dunno why, chalk it up to their DNA.
posted by zardoz at 7:31 AM on August 8, 2008


My impression is that most dope smoking is done by people when they are younger and that they grow out of it when responsibilities no longer allow time in their schedules for being stoned. Any thoughts on that?

Lots of people enjoy marijuana all their lives. Just as people can find times in their schedules for a scotch, or a cigar, or a fishing trip or whatever, lots of people who enjoy marijuana continue to do so well into adulthood.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:32 AM on August 8, 2008


Even purely intrastate commerce that affects interstate commerce [...] is susceptible to federal regulation. This is the same constitutional interpretation that lets the feds require locally-owned restaurants serving locally-sourced food to accept black customers.

Really? I thought that was based on the Equal Protection clause, and doesn't need interstate commerce to justify itself, but I should leave it to the lawyers to comment on that.

You seem to be suggesting that a reduction in the legal powers and scope of the federal government is going to suddenly threaten the Civil Rights Act, which I think is a great exaggeration of cause and effect. It doesn't have to be that way. In recent years, "states' rights" has meant medicinal marijuana, physician assisted suicide, gay marriage, and other progressive initiatives that federal institutions have become too corrupt and too bureaucratic to embrace. In my understanding, the fourteenth amendment and interstate commerce are separate entities, and the former still holds even if interpretations of the latter are revised.
posted by kid ichorous at 7:41 AM on August 8, 2008


What? Why? What exactly are you afraid will happen if pot gets legalized?

this culture becoming a nation of slackers. <>

Pot is the ultimate substitute good.

posted by yort at 7:48 AM on August 8, 2008


<> = "<--- too late perhaps" comment cut off by html parser
posted by yort at 7:49 AM on August 8, 2008


zardoz and Meatbomb, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I can't place a lot of value on what celebrities like Jennifer Anniston, Paul McCartney, or Keanu Reeves think about some things, they live in a alternate reality and their responsibilities and pressures are not those of the average proletarian like me. I don't have a hired entourage to look after things, for one thing.

As far as functionality while being stoned goes, maybe some people get their money's worth more than others?! For them, it can be a real motivation sapper. Also, some people make really stupid mistakes while stoned and should either stay on the couch or give it up entirely. I don't have time to sit around on the couch, screw up enough as it is, and I need all of the forward momentum I can gather.

Like I said, I can't complain about people smoking dope as long as they don't crash into me while I'm driving somewhere. Some things you can still handle while you're impaired, other things demand your full attention. Time and place, you know?
posted by Daddy-O at 7:55 AM on August 8, 2008


Making nature illegal is just one example of how profoundly stupid human beings can be, in regards to how we see our world.

What does this even mean? Plutonium is natural. You want anyone to be able go dig up some and sell it to anyone they want? Just because something is a plant doesn't mean it shouldn't be regulated. I don't believe in regulating marijuana, but not because it's 'from nature'.
posted by spicynuts at 7:55 AM on August 8, 2008


yort: I know that pot is a complementary good, but what in your mind is it a replacement for in terms of being a substitute good? Please explain.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:05 AM on August 8, 2008


spicynuts is right about natural things. Hey, take a big swig of hemlock, it's completely natural!!!
posted by Daddy-O at 8:16 AM on August 8, 2008


Here is the way it seems to me: It would be taken much more seriously if the advocates of medical marijuana were all doctors, chemo patients, and others with serious medical conditions. But so many of the proponents seem to have the prime motive of just wanting to get stoned legally that their arguments have a disingenuous aura about them, even more so when the subject is legalization of hemp.

IMHO, it's not surprising that pot smokers tend to get into medical marijuana and industrial hemp issues. They're the ones who generally get into legalizing recreational marijuana, and recreational marijuana is used as the sole justification for the rather stupid restrictions on medical MJ and hemp. It's not as if they're unrelated issues.

In my experience, though, the whole "they just want to get stoned legally" thing is a bit of a canard -- marijuana is already de-facto legal throughout most of the US, especially for the sort of people who can afford to stick their necks out and make a stink about it as activists. Marijuana is not hard to get and it's not hard to use, so the idea that people's support for recreational legalization (much less medical or industrial legalization!) comes from convenience or selfish desire is a little bit naive. I think it comes pretty much directly from personal experience with the negative and self-defeating nature of prohibition itself, and with the relatively benign nature of marijuana in comparison.

That said, to me, the most convincing thing is the number of doctors and farmers who are on board with medical or industrial marijuana, but not its recreational use. I don't see why so many of them would bother, if the argument were a specious one. When you have The American Health Association, The American Nurses Association, and The British Medical Association (with an article in The Lancet, no less) on your side, and when wheat farmers in North Dakota are pushing to pass hemp bills in the state legislature, there's got to be at least something to it.
posted by vorfeed at 8:28 AM on August 8, 2008


Working out dosage for eaten marijuana is incredibly easy. Take 2.5 to 3 ounces of primo bud and cook it into a 48 ounce bottle of Canola oil with a crockpot set on warm (not low), for eight hours. Buy a pan of brownies that takes 1/2 cup of oil. Bake the brownies using the oil you just made. Cut the pan of brownies into 16 squares. Eat one. Wait three hours. If that wasn't enough, eat two next time. If that wasn't enough, eat three, and if that wasn't enough, eat four. If *that* isn't enough, then either someone sold you some fake primo buds, or you cooked the oil wrong.

That's it. No lung damage, no dosage problems, nothing risky at all.
posted by jamstigator at 8:33 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pot is the ultimate substitute good.

There are several people in this very thread who've mentioned that people tend to quit at some point, and that those who end up smoking for life tend to function just fine in society. This would seem to refute your "marijuana's irresistible power will turn us all into slackers" argument, as does the continued existence of Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and (even more so) the pot-soaked Seattle programming culture, among many others.

Like I said above, America is already saturated with marijuana. As in, it's actually our #1 cash crop. There are marijuana courier delivery services in New York, San Francisco, and other major cultural and economic centers. At this point, pretending as if we're not already a nation of boozers and stoners is ridiculous. Thus, we can either legalize and regulate the trade of this drug, or we can continue having no significant oversight into a massive chunk of our national economy and character. Your choice. As far as I'm concerned, anybody who is seriously worried about the social effects of widespread marijuana use ought to be even more worried about the social effects of widespread marijuana use plus habitual lawbreaking and black market activity.

Also, to be perfectly frank, consumption-for-consumption's-sake is the ultimate "substitute good", and we're already swimming in it. it makes pretty much zero sense to blame our cultural problems on marijuana, as opposed to a constant, life-long barrage of messages which grant our highest cultural values to comfort, pleasure, easy convenience, and the acquisition of unnecessary objects.
posted by vorfeed at 8:44 AM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Jury nullification, legal or not, at least provides citizens with a form of peaceful protest against immoralities perpetuated by the government. Yeah, you can stand around with signs too, of course. But which form of peaceful protest is more effective? Court decisions get press, crowds of stoners with signs often do not. If ever I am called to serve on jury duty for anyone accused of marijuana possession or distribution, I will not find them guilty. If the crime involved organized crime, violence, weapons, anything like that, I'd assess the facts. For some guy caught with a half pound, I'll find him innocent, regardless of the laws or the evidence. If they don't want me to peacefully protest injustice in this manner, they won't call on me for jury duty.
posted by jamstigator at 8:45 AM on August 8, 2008


For fuck's sake, between this and what happened with the Prince George county mayor, can we finally sit down with lawmakers and have an adult conversation about the need for continuing this aspect of the War on Drugs?

I believe that it is time to turn this argument around. In light of so many clinical studies which prove it's efficacy at helping sick people feel better, it's far less harmful properties than tobacco or alcohol, and the fact that huge potential source of revenue; I think it's time for the government to show me why it should remain illegal.
posted by quin at 8:46 AM on August 8, 2008


vorfeed, I don't argue that medical marijuana should be outlawed. I agree that marijuana laws against people caught with recreational amounts are overly punitive. If I were inclined to, I would have a hard time debating against the RESPONSIBLE use of recreational or medical marijuana. I'm just saying that I and probably others suspect that there are some people who would never have thought of being advocates of medical marijuana (or hemp) if they were not recreational users. This suspicion is damaging to the medical marijuana argument because it makes suspect the motivation of some proponents. Some people are just in love with the weed and are grasping at other justifications for legalizing it. I just think some people are more in a position to argue for it convincingly. Being able to argue objectively is more powerful than arguing subjectively. This is largely determined my motivation.

I don't think we are really on opposite sides of the debate.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:05 AM on August 8, 2008


Eat one. Wait three hours. If that wasn't enough, eat two next time. If that wasn't enough, eat three, and if that wasn't enough, eat four. I am pretty sure that the more you eat the hungrier you will get and the harder it will be to stop! Holy cow, where did all of the brownies go?! Did I eat them all?!

Not arguing with your point, just making a joke. But is really is true.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:11 AM on August 8, 2008


consumption-for-consumption's-sake is the ultimate "substitute good"

Vorfeed, I don't understand this statement, at least in terms of this definition of substitute goods.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:17 AM on August 8, 2008


I and probably others suspect that there are some people who would never have thought of being advocates of medical marijuana (or hemp) if they were not recreational users.

Well, I don't get why this is a huge deal to you, considering that I've already demonstrated that there are also plenty of non-users who also support the cause. I mean, there are plenty of people who would never have thought of being for or against gun control without first shooting (or being shot by) guns; there are plenty of people who became passionate defenders of prisoner's rights only after a loved one became a prisoner. Assuming that their argument is sufficiently logical and objective, I don't see why their personal experience or original motivation should outweigh it.

It's perfectly valid to expect people to argue objectively, but I don't get why you seem to expect them to come to their conclusions out of thin air, with zero connection to their own lives. That's not how motivation works, and I think it is deeply telling that we don't tend to apply this standard to other issues. Imagine if the "whatever, you just want to be sent to a nursing home so you can toddle around in a walker" argument were applied to people arguing for elderly rights!
posted by vorfeed at 9:20 AM on August 8, 2008


I can see you point, vorfeed, and I think we're in agreement about everything other than insignificant details.

I have to go now, but thanks for the conversation. I think most of the spirit of debate shown in this thread is an example of the best spirit of Metafilter. This level of debate can make us examine and adjust our beliefs. Thanks again!
posted by Daddy-O at 9:32 AM on August 8, 2008


*help* us examine and adjust our beliefs I should say.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:33 AM on August 8, 2008


Sorry if Jennifer Anniston or Willie Nelson isn't doing it for you Daddy-O. There are millions of "normal" adult people also using, just that they don't get on easily Googleable web lists. :)
posted by Meatbomb at 9:37 AM on August 8, 2008


Meatbomb, I think it should be legalized. We all have to make adjustments for our own uniqueness in this existence, and my uniqueness dictates a zero intake of THC. Others in this world have my blessing and my encouragement to embrace their own uniqueness as long as they aren't hurting others.

With the life ruining effects and the punitive nature of our MJ laws, it's no wonder many people are not volunteering to be on that list. Thanks again for the discussion, and I am really going this time.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:53 AM on August 8, 2008


Vorfeed, I don't understand this statement, at least in terms of this definition of substitute goods.

I'm thinking of goal-based action as our original "good". There was a time in this country in which people earned money and bought things for a concrete reason. I need money so I can buy a butter churn, which will allow me to make butter. I need cash for new shoes because there's a irreparable hole in the old ones. I need to spend some of my extra money on a ribbon because I'd like to look pretty at the fair. It's good to be rich, because you can buy yourself the things you need!

Over time, money and consumption have themselves become end-goals. Instead of earning money toward a concrete goal and buying things for a concrete reason, we've explicitly assigned value to the acts of earning and purchasing, themselves. We've gone and made proper nouns out of these things. It is good to be Rich, full stop. I Need more Money because I Need a new car, full stop. I Need new shoes, full stop. I Need a better iPod, full stop. When you ask people why, the answer is often some sort of rationalization (example: because the one I already have is "old" or "not good enough", though its failing is often not anchored in any concrete reason). Push hard enough, and it becomes clear that buying X has become a substitute for X itself, at least to some degree, and that money has become a substitute for the tangible goals and goods it was originally meant to be used in trade for.

This has created a hollow economy and a hollow culture, both of which are explicitly pointless. You can't really get mad at people for slacking when there is no actual, concrete goal toward which our money is directed, other than more money. Some people are simply going to see through the game and realize that they already have what they need, and so they don't actually Need anything at all. I believe that we cannot fix slacking and related social maladies without first providing higher cultural goals; something to need which has greater social value than goods and money. And I'm not talking about religion, here, either.

Sure, the idea that human actions can themselves be thought of as goods is a stretch, but I don't think it's any more of one than the idea that marijuana is the ultimate substitute good (For what? Which good is it that will decrease in demand by equal measure if marijuana's value decreases, other than joke replies like "Doritos"?)
posted by vorfeed at 10:16 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Daddy-O, thanks to you, too! I agree with you; this thread is an example of how metafilter is supposed to work. :)
posted by vorfeed at 10:18 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


yort writes "but I am tempted to join the non pot-head community doesn't want to live in an experiment to see what happens if & when we fully legalize it."

I'm still trying to parse that. Anyway, would it have mattered whether it was alcohol or pot? Are you concerned that many more delinquents might take midnight swims if marijuana is legalized? I can see the cause for concern ...
posted by krinklyfig at 10:19 AM on August 8, 2008


yort writes "this culture becoming a nation of slackers."

I don't think usage rates would be affected much. The Netherlands was not drastically affected, and its rates are lower than the US in some demographic groups. Whatever productive people and slackers currently smoke would probably continue to smoke, and life would go on, except without all the criminal underground, weapons that go along with it and rogue grow operations.

Anyway, even if you're right, I'd rather live with slackers than in a police state.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:24 AM on August 8, 2008


Common sense and compassion clearly have no relevance to the powers that be. It's about power, power, and power. Consider the exercise of that power to be sexually fetishistic - that's about the only reason I can come up with for what much of The Right does.
posted by Xoebe at 10:26 AM on August 8, 2008


That's it. No lung damage, no dosage problems, nothing risky at all.

A lot of people smoke pot because they can't keep food down, or are so nauseous they can't bring themselves to put food in their mouths.

Also, "primo pot" isn't a useful descriptor. There is pot that gets you stoned, pot that lays you out on your ass (unless you're a pro), and pot that makes you hallucinate. Probably all could be described as primo, depending on your goals.

The lawyer downstairs is working for the legalization of medical marijuana. The hallway is perpetually hotboxed- I have no idea what his room must be like. He rarely shaves. He only wears flipflops and beat up pants. Can he really have no idea what kind of damage he's doing to his cause when he shows up looking (and sounding) like 3 miles of bad road?
posted by small_ruminant at 10:56 AM on August 8, 2008


Illegal immigrants are stealing our pot-farming jobs.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:05 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, the drug czar and a news crew are always nearby at pot busts hours of hiking from the nearest road. No media-government propaganda cahoots at all.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:19 PM on August 8, 2008


Police now have the ability to analyse the traces of cannabis, cocaine and other drugs, or explosives, in a fingerprint itself.
posted by nickyskye at 6:02 PM on August 8, 2008


My impression is that most dope smoking is done by people when they are younger and that they grow out of it when responsibilities no longer allow time in their schedules for being stoned. Any thoughts on that?

Quite the opposite for me. I started using marijuana in my thirties. It is wonderfully relaxing, even more so than a glass of good wine or dark ale. I bust my ass for twelve hours a day these days; a quick unwinder is peachy. And it makes orgasms truly transcedental for me: sex these days is something else and a half! Music, too, is much improved. Even television can be enjoyable. Puttering around the garden and yard, or even doing housework becomes a pleasant, mellow task.

There are no downsides to non-abusive use of pot. It's no different than having a glass of wine, a beer, or even a really heavenly slice of chocolate cheesecake.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:05 PM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


The main problem I see with the legalization of recreational marijuana is that there is no breath or blood test to ensure people aren't driving on the streets impaired.

No breath of blood tests, maybe, but saliva testing is routinely performed by the Victoria Police, alongside booze testing.
posted by pompomtom at 9:59 PM on August 9, 2008


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