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Supreme Court Rules Medical Marijuana Is Still A Banned Drug

Buzzkill.

WASHINGTON - Federal authorities may prosecute sick people who smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes, even in states that have legalized the practice, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The court, in a 6-3 decision, concluded that state laws don't protect users from a federal ban on the drug. The decision is a stinging defeat for marijuana advocates who had successfully pushed 10 states to allow the drug's use to treat various illnesses.

Justice John Paul Stevens, writing the decision, said that Congress could change the law to allow medical use of marijuana.

The story is sure to reported incorrectly as the SCOTUS striking down the state marijuana laws. I've found no indication that the Court overturned the state law (California in this case), but rather they reiterated the federal law. The real question is whether state law enforcement agencies will turn a blind eye to that which is legal under state law and illegal under federal law. I'm guessing they will...

Court rules medical marijuana laws don't shield users - [USAToday]


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Comments (21)

My understanding is that th... (Below threshold)

My understanding is that the Court held that Federal law PREEMPTS California law here. Thus Federal law displaces State law.

Here is a link that explains the legal application of the word, preempt: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preemption

Sometimes, Congress will pass statutes that allow State law to preempt Federal law. For instance, in the case of HIPAA, the more strict privacy protections of protected health information preempts. Thus if a State's medical privacy laws are more strict--those laws preempt or displace the Federal HIPAA law. If HIPAA is stricter, it preempts the state privacy law.

As you note, this is not a matter of striking down California law--it is a matter of displacing it in favor of Federal law. Of course, California law enforcement always has discretion over what laws they choose to prosecute with any diligence.

Of course the proper method... (Below threshold)
dodgeman:

Of course the proper method for changing federal law is through the legislative branch, not the judicial. The Court made a ruling that the law was valid and meant what it said. Nothing else. If the law is unpopular, unnecessary, ineffective, etc., then the medicinal marijuana advocates should get the House and Senate to repeal the law or add a medicinal exemption.

Look for all democrats to cloud the issue.

But the Feds still can't re... (Below threshold)
mojo:

But the Feds still can't require the states to enforce federal law on the subject. Unfunded mandate, and all that. If the Feds want their laws enforced in California, they'll have to do it themselves.

But the federal goverment c... (Below threshold)
Russell:

But the federal goverment can still arrest you for possesion. My only fear is that i will be 80 years old and take what ever medication my doctor gives me. I dont want to then be arrested because it becomes a "federaly banned drug".

Per the Food, Drug, and Cos... (Below threshold)
Gizmo:

Per the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act the approval of medications is a federally reserved power. Agree with it, or not, California can no more approve the use of a narcotic than it can an antibiotic. Justice Stevens nailed it, this is a legislative issue. Otherwise, what's next? The FDA turns down a new ED drug, so the makers start a lobbying effort to get the states to approve its use???

The DEA is one of the sicke... (Below threshold)

The DEA is one of the sickest and most perverted groups of men and women in this country's history. They make their living preying on law-abiding citizens who need the marijuana to be able to live comfortably due to excruciating illness.

And you know what the irony of it is? Most of the major pain killers that the anti-medical pot side suggests are opoids. That's right, they're more potent and potentially dangerous to the user than marijuana because they metabolize into morphine, an opiate.

There are not words in the English language strong enough to describe how deeply I loath every single last human being who works for the DEA and works in the government to support its operations.

In a country where insanity... (Below threshold)
mtibke:

In a country where insanity is the norm with a government that is five steps down from whaleshit, pot being illegal is one of the worst,,alcohol will make the sweetest , kindest , most caring person on the planet into a murderous asshole,,pot mellows ,,alcohol is legal ,,pot is illegal,,makes you proud to be an outlaw

I think I am with the disse... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I think I am with the dissent on this one, I really do think, at least when it comes to natural drugs (the ones that aren't created in a lab, but you can grow in your back yard, and use without much effort) that states should be able to make these decisions. Marijuana is much more similar to an herbal (unregulated by the FDA) than Oxycontin.

Although I do think they have a point that the FDA rules are what need changing regarding medical use only statutes, and I sort of think the medical MJ statues are just a backdoor law to make MJ legal for anyone willing to try hard enough for the scrip.

But I do think states should be able to determine these things.

So much for state's rights ... (Below threshold)
JimK:

So much for state's rights I guess. One more notch in the Fed belt.

At first I thought (based o... (Below threshold)
Ken:

At first I thought (based on state's rights, lowest level of government, etc.) that a state should be allowed to make the decision on medical marijuana.

However, it has been settled earlier (even if some might think it wrong) that the federal government has the authority to regulate drugs. I think it is proper to consider marijuana a drug, so the feds would logically regulate it like any other.

I think Justice Stephens nailed it by saying that Congress could change the law.

If the court had gone the other way, then the ruling would indicate that all other drug regulation decisions might be available to each state. Suddenly changing the regulation arrangement like this could lead to chaos. I think it best that a change like that be thought out and done through the Congress legislative process.

Man made Alcohol;God... (Below threshold)

Man made Alcohol;
God made Marijuana.
Who do you trust?

-Gnildir

they need to get it strait ... (Below threshold)
Terry:

they need to get it strait pot laws is keeping americans out of work,keep it up and there wont be anyone to generate tax money from but the crackheads that there stupid test dont seem detect I quit just to get a good job next to crackheads and alkaholics the like,the real crime is how the pay themselves with tax payer money americans smoke pot so what! whats the big deal,I dont recamend my kids to get on pot but i will fight for thair right to make that choice themselves at the right age. the least they can do is make the test fare so americans can work.

The Feds clearly have the r... (Below threshold)
McCain:

The Feds clearly have the right to regulate interstate commerce, which is where justification for regulating drugs come from. However, the stuff has to be considered interstate commerce to be federally regulated, drugs or otherwise. But this case was about backyard weed.

In the case, the court did fits and twists to contort their ruling to fit the interstate commerce clause. Even Scalia, who joined the liberals, was so embarrassed that he wrote a separate majority opinion. but it contains even more contortions as he nuances the interstate commerce clause to include inTRAstate commerce that can theoretically influence interstate commerce. What a joke.

Rehnquist and Thomas have this one correct. It was a case where the majority decided the outcome they wanted in advance, and then grasped for support in the constitution. The loose constructionist liberal wing is really good at that.

they'll fight for you to ke... (Below threshold)
Terry:

they'll fight for you to keep a gun in your home even with kids killing each other but they wont let you smoke herbs, its so stubid they mite as well ban greentea, incents,Lysol everthing but the truth is thats where there headed to control everything you do.

Gnildir,As an athi... (Below threshold)

Gnildir,

As an athiest, I'm gonna have to go with booze. I'd also point out that arcenic is natural, and hemlock is organic...

And I'd also like to thank ... (Below threshold)

And I'd also like to thank Terry for helping support the proposition that pot is bad for you...

Bad decision today. Not su... (Below threshold)
RandMan:

Bad decision today. Not surprised though. The libs on the court are not going to rule to roll back the expansive view of the commerce clause. If the the commerce clause is ever reigned in, then all the big stupid govt programs brought into law under the commerce clause could be in danger. The libs won't let that happen.

That spome conservatives should applaud this ruling makes me think they really aren't so conservative at all. But that is not surprising either as most conservatives have a big govt agenda, it's just a little different from the liberals.

Now, when I mean God, I mea... (Below threshold)

Now, when I mean God, I mean as the higher being that we believe in. I am not just refering to the Christian God, but as a figure that we believe in. In my case, it has to be the Ganja God. Marijuana has helped me keep up my appetite and depression. Without it, I just dont eat much and I just sit around do nothing all day long. I will be starting an intensive treatment for my liver and the side-effects will be murderous (as the docs said that I will be needing higher dosages of this medication). My friend had to go through the same treatment and he was constantly sick and nauseous and wanted to have nothing to do with anyone else. He then began smoking marijuana and he was eating again, his depression was pretty much gone, and he's everywhere. He actually wanted to do things instead of sitting around. I had a taste of his medication, the same stuff I will be taking, boy, talk about feeling nasty. I dont want to feel that way for a long time when I start on wit h those meds.

I spent six years as a bart... (Below threshold)
ryan:

I spent six years as a bartender, and have seen the wonderful effects of alcoholism...things like Bacardi 151 are prefectly legal, even though they tear people apart.

I have seen people who smoke way too much pot, get lazy and depressed, and thats definitely good either. But if I honestly had to give my opinion as to which is worse, I would say alcohol by far.

I have a hard time understanding why marijuana is so taboo while alcohol is socially acceptable.

^^^typo:second par... (Below threshold)
ryan:

^^^typo:

second paragraph, first sentence should say "definitely NOT good either"

sorry. long day at work.

Hay Feds What about the la... (Below threshold)
Terry:

Hay Feds What about the laws that say our tax money is to go directly to the treasher. So why dose it end up in your pocket Pal? lets also get you guys off your great retiremant plan and on social sucurity with the rest of us.




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