Monday, June 06, 2005

Supreme Court: Let's Not Help The Sick And Dying

It is just this sort of thing that proves that the U.S. Government is not particularly interested in the health and well-being of the citizenry. In a highly-publicized move, the court reasserted the right of the federal government to prosecute and jail people for growing medicinal marijuana and using it even in the nine states where such things are legal (there is also a bill in front of the New York state legislature to do the same).

Read the story from the Associated Press.

The author of the majority opinion, John Paul Stevens, uses an agrument that claims that this is a matter of interstate commerce and trade in illegal substances. Give me a break. This argument orbits around a crucial issue and another sort-of important issue.

First, the crucial issue in the case of medicinal marijuana is that of compassion for the suffering of other human beings. By making laws such as these, the state is denying a potentially helpful treatment to people who live and die in horrible pain. Not all people respond to all treatments and it is the province of medical science to expand the "doctor's toolbox" of methods to treat the sick. By doing this, it shows that the primary interest of government is, as it has always been, control and prosecution of the embarrassing failure that is the "war on drugs."

The purpose of a limited government should follow the dictates of Utilitarianism put forth in the late eighteenth century by British philosopher Jeremy Bentham. Bentham argued that every situation should be approached to provide the maximum good for the maximum amount of people. To deny people any available treatment for their illnesses is inhumane and wrong. Government is not a friend of the people; it is certainly their most insidious and constant enemy.

The other issue at stake here is the idea of state's rights and the composition of federalized power. I have never thought that the Supreme Court is a fair body. It is an unelected body of people who serve life terms. The purpose of the court, according to that forgotten document the U.S. Constitution, should be to review legislation. This has, however, expanded over the years beginning with Marbury v. Madison in 1804. This established the concept of judicial review and set the stage for years of expanding court power. The federal government should have no such powers over the states. Power needs to be decentralized to the states, especially on matters like medical marijuana. In reality, as was said by the Attorney General of California, this will be a law that will not see much change in the short term for people who use marijuana for a curative.

It just further proves that, just as in the case of stem-cell research, the government would rather dead, "moral" citizens than living marijuana users. We are a nation that is prepared to put sick people in jail for trying to cure their illnesses. This is a sad day for freedom and compassion in America.


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