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Major Buzz Over Marijuana Ruling

June 09, 2005

Re "Justices Rule U.S. Can Ban Medical Pot," June 7: Is that why they call it the high court?

Daniel Waldman

Santa Barbara


One perverse result of the medical marijuana case: In eviscerating any meaningful check on Congress' power to intrude on the most noncommercial and private of individual activities under the guise of "regulating interstate commerce," the court undermines the avowed principal goal of the federal drug control legislation it cites. The court says the goal of the 1970 Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, as applied to marijuana, is to prohibit and eliminate interstate commerce in marijuana. But by ruling that the act properly prohibits purely private, noncommercial cultivation and personal use of small quantities of marijuana for medical purposes, in compliance with state law and under the recommendation of a doctor, the Supreme Court in effect sends those sick patients into the illicit market. The more patients in the illicit market, the more aggregate demand, the higher the prices, the higher the profits, and the more supply is needed.

By ruling in line with reason and precedent that the activities of brain tumor patient Angel Raich were indeed beyond the purview of federal commerce authority, the Supreme Court ironically could have helped reduce demand in the illicit interstate market in marijuana, thus accomplishing something that federal drug policy has yet to achieve in any meaningful way.

Jeff Furchtenicht

Attorney, Santa Maria


So now the Supreme Court has ruled against the medical use of marijuana. What's next -- morphine?

Gary W. Thomas

San Diego


Our Extreme Court has done it again. Now it has ruled against the use of medical marijuana, even for cancer patients. Yes, it shows a lack of compassion for our sick -- but not for the administration's big pharmaceutical donors. After all, how much obscene profit can they make from plants growing free on someone's back porch?

Bonnie Compton Hanson

Santa Ana


Re "Unconstitutional Cannabis," editorial, June 7: The medicinal use of marijuana benefits cancer patients by stimulating the appetite, suppressing nausea and relieving pain. To deny this to terminally ill patients causes needless suffering. Californians were justified in passing legislation to provide marijuana to such patients under the constitutional delegation of health, safety and welfare to the states.

I commend readers to the thoughtful dissents of Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Clarence Thomas, who correctly identify that the medicinal private use of homegrown marijuana does not affect interstate commerce.

Unbounded federal regulation under an unlimited "commerce clause" analysis can be used to regulate such things as "quilting bees ... and potluck suppers," as Thomas wrote, and constitutes an unrestrained and unconstitutional federal police power. The Times' opinion that the ruling is justified because the commerce clause analysis has been used to prevent Southern racial segregation is off the mark as such segregation clearly does affect interstate commerce.

Douglas Malcolm MD, JD

Shell Beach, Calif.

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