L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 324, June 19, 2005
The Government Hates and Despises Us
Smoke For Jesus
Special to TLE
Last week, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of pain. And not just pain, but severe, crippling painthe kind of pain you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.
For years, people in less than a dozen states have been smoking medical marijuana to help cope with such things as brain tumors and multiple sclerosis. The federal government, however, sees such attempts at pain relief as selfish. These people are undermining the war on drugs, the feds say. And, last week, the Supreme Court agreed. In a 6-3 ruling, the court confirmed that federal anti-drug laws overrule state medical marijuana laws. Federal power is far more important than some cancer-havin' stoner's excruciating pain. So now the feds can feel free to bust anyone who smokes, grows, prescribes, or distributes medical marijuana, even if they live in one of the few states where doing so was approved democratically.
Why is it the American government so hates average Americans?
I'm not really being facetious here. I think a strong case can be made, based on this decision, that the government actually hates and despises ordinary peoplethat they, in fact, wish pain on us.
I've discussed a number of civil liberty issues in my column the last few years. We can argue all day about forced mental screenings and the Patriot Act. But this goes beyond civil liberties. It goes beyond federal thugs tapping your phone and rummaging through your sock drawer. This ruling gets to the basic core of human decency. Here you have people with terrible, painful afflictions, who smoke pot because, God forbid, it actually makes them feel better. And Washington wants to stop them? What the hell for? Do they like watching people with tumors writhe in pain? Is that somehow fun for them?
The Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce. A few months ago, we learned that this includes the performance-enhancing drugs so popular amongst kids and Major League Baseball players. Now we learn that it includes legally prescribed pain relievers like marijuana, too. According to the Supreme Court, state medical marijuana laws are a problem because marijuana grown for in-state use could easily find its way to the interstate market. And since marijuana isn't legal on the national level, the feds are therefore entitled to stem its production state-by-state.
Well, that's great. But what I want to know is, why does Washington care so much? What, exactly, are they trying to stop?
I'm not the kind of guy who rails against drug companies. I think drug companies do plenty of good. But I also think the pharmaceutical industry is like the skinny immigrant pool boy living in the FDA's secret backyard shed. I mean, the FDA-approval process seems like a mutually beneficial relationship to me; both the agency as well as the companies stand to make a fortune off it. Which is fine, you know. They're entitled to make money. But medical marijuana is a homegrown remedy. It's out of the loop. Could that be why Washington worries about it? And, if so, wouldn't it kinda, sorta be wrong?
I'm not the kind of guy who rails against oil, either. People treat it like it's the Blood of Satan. I'm not sure I agree with this viewpoint (I've always imagined Satan's veins coursing with Ovaltine), but I do have my suspicions about the oil companies. After all, the use of oil is deeply embedded in our society. Yet there's apparently a limited worldwide supply of it, and a small number of people control every last drop. Industrial hemp is a renewable, eco-friendly natural resource, and some say it's the perfect alternative to many synthetic, oil-based products. But since hemp is marijuana's cousin, Washington doesn't want us to use it. Doesn't this seem a bit fishy to you? Or at the very least, a bit stupid? I realize it sounds like your basic stoner conspiracy theory, but I'm neither a stoner nor a full-time conspiracy theorist. I just think it's weird how the oilmen in the White House care so much about cancer patients rolling joints.
It's hard to believe that Washington's anti-pot stance has anything to do with the drug's ill effects. Marijuana's track record is probably better than anything ever approved by the FDA. (Painful four-hour erections, anyone?) And while it's true some pot-smokers smoke their lives away, other people gamble, shop, and argue their way into similar oblivion. Self-destruction is self-destruction, with or without marijuana. Most of the people who smoke this stuff simply eat some Doritos and go to bed. (Heck, I'm a beer man, and I usually do the same thing.)
But that's beside the point. Even if recreational marijuana remains illegal, even if it's the worst thing you can do short of stapling your face to the living room carpetthere's still no reason why medical exceptions can't be made.
I don't know if the American government "hates" us, per se. They may have the best of intentions here. But if anyone stands to benefit from their medical marijuana policies, it's themnot us. People like to call marijuana a gateway drug, but, if you ask me, the true gateway drug here is absolute power. Washington took its first hit of the stuff when the threat of secession ended in 1865, and they've been gobbling up other checks and balances like Robert Downey, Jr., on a weekend coke binge ever since.
If America is truly built on Judeo-Christian principles, let's see some Judeo-Christian compassion here. The greatest political rebel of all, Jesus Christ, illegally healed people on the Sabbath; he told his detractors the law took a back seat to helping those in need. The same should hold true in the modern USA. If Jesus could scoff at the law in order to make people feel better, shouldn't we?
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