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5 Cards in this Set

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http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/opinion/article/0,1299,DRMN_38_3370711,00.html
Speakout: Medical marijuana case affects state
By Robert J. Corry Jr., Special to the News
December 3, 2004

Assault weapons drawn, dozens of black-clad federal agents, in full riot gear and body armor, burst into a peaceful suburban Aurora home at the end of quiet cul-de-sac. No, they don't seek Osama bin Laden; instead, agents scour every nook and cranny for that pernicious threat to national security: state-approved medical marijuana, used by sick patients for relief from illness and pain, as Colorado voters intended.

Inside the home, agents find a terrified man who peacefully presents his state of Colorado-issued card and certificate, the government's permission for him to grow, possess and use medical marijuana. This gentle man, Dana K. May, suffers from reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a debilitating and potentially lethal nerve disease with pain so intense that some of its sufferers take their own lives. May, a clean-cut Republican and married father of three, describes the pain as though "my feet are in a deep fryer."
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/opinion/article/0,1299,DRMN_38_3370711,00.html
A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent snatches his state-issued card, arrogantly saying "we're DEA, we don't follow Colorado's Constitution." Then, federal agents trash May's home. Agents find what they seek: May's modest medical marijuana garden, tucked in his basement behind two locked doors. They rip out of the soil the plants painstakingly tended as a "labor of love" by a man who uses medical marijuana only as a last resort.

May had spent seven years trying every possible prescription drug including synthetic marijuana, none of which were remotely effective for his intense pain, and all of which are expensive and unhealthy. May reluctantly turned to medical marijuana in 2001, only as a last resort for pain, only after his longtime, trusted doctor's recommendation, and only because medical marijuana is legal in Colorado, having been approved by voters in 2000. May's three kids fully understand that marijuana is OK only for Dad, only as medicine, and only by prescription and state approval.
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/opinion/article/0,1299,DRMN_38_3370711,00.html
On Nov. 29, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could end terrifying incidents like Dana May's. In the case of Ashcroft v. Raich, the high court will consider whether the federal government can enforce federal drug laws against medical marijuana patients operating under state laws. Currently, 11 states have legalized medical marijuana, and that number is expected to grow.

At issue is the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, the Commerce Clause, which grants Congress the power to "regulate Commerce . . . among the several States." The Constitution created a limited federal government that could act only within its enumerated powers, and did not have general authority to do anything it wanted.

Somehow, the act of growing medicine in your own home, using it in your own home, never selling it, and never even taking it out of your own home, much less the State of Colorado, became "commerce among the several states." This case is important because if May's growing medical marijuana is not interstate commerce, then the federal government has no power to seize his medicine. But if his actions completely within his own home are interstate commerce, then everything is interstate commerce.
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/opinion/article/0,1299,DRMN_38_3370711,00.html
The Founding Fathers' dream of a limited federal government of enumerated powers has become a twisted nightmare where the Constitution does not mean what it says, and where there is no limit to federal power because the Commerce Clause is meaningless. This case is larger than just medical marijuana; it concerns the creeping expansion of federal power at the expense of the voters of the state of Colorado who wish to govern themselves.

Obviously, May's actions are not "commerce" and they are certainly not "interstate." Common sense and lower courts agree. The distinguished U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski, a Ronald Reagan appointee, wrote in Conant v. Walters that "Medical marijuana, when grown locally for personal consumption, does not have any direct or obvious effect on interstate commerce. Federal efforts to regulate it considerably blur the distinction between what is national and what is local." Let's hope the Supreme Court will make this blurred distinction crystal clear.
http://barometer.orst.edu/vnews/display.v/ART/2004/12/02/41af5ae7e6b9b
The relative medicinal value of marijuana has been pretty well demonstrated, despite the paltry amount of study devoted to it. It is very revealing of our health care system that something so physiologically reactive and potentially beneficial is not well studied. The reason for that is because no pharmaceutical company can patent the ancient plant, and thus nobody is devoting big money to prove, by expensive Food and Drug Administration standards of proof, the effectiveness of marijuana therapies.

However, the National Institute of Medicine, a division of the National Academy of Sciences, compiled a large report on medicinal marijuana in 1999 titled "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base." By the way, in terms of scientific credibility, the academy is probably the best source of information and opinion.