Medical marijuana ruling defies founders' intentions

June 29, 2005

Howard J. Blitz, columnist, Yuma Sun (AZ)

Thomas Jefferson stated, “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.' The recent ruling by the Supreme Court concerning the medical use of marijuana is another attack not only on the United States Constitution, but it prohibits individuals from taking personal responsibility for their own lives through individual peaceful means. The founders established the Constitution in order that the federal government would not intervene in matters personal to either the individual or the states. Article 1 Section 8 of the United States Constitution states that “Congress shall have the power to regulate commerce among the several states ...” It is this so-called commerce clause that federal officials rationalize and use to justify all federal regulation of economic activity across state lines from the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 all the way to current law, and the Supreme Court continues to support this rationale.

Today, any economic activity appears to be interpreted by federal officials to affect interstate commerce, including family dinners. The intent of the founders was to restrict the awesome power of the federal government, not to expand it. The so-called commerce clause was never meant to give the federal government unlimited control and regulation over economic activity. The whole point of Article 1 Section 8 was to make commerce between states easier, similar to a stoplight in the control of traffic in order that fewer accidents occur. In spite of the stoplights, though, accidents still occur. Likewise, in spite of the basic rules against fraud and theft, those activities still occur.

The so-called commerce clause is designed to promote trade, not restrict it. The design of the founders was to prevent states from enacting restrictions like tariffs, quotas and taxes in order that greater trade and exchange could take place. The federal government is supposed to put an economic stoplight between the states, not to decide what can and cannot be traded.

It would be like government deciding which cars could pass through the stoplight and which could not instead of just establishing the stoplight and letting whatever cars want to pass as long as they pass in an orderly fashion when the light is green. It should not matter what the goods or services are that pass between states, as long as fraud and theft and violent activity is not taking place. When someone runs a red light, then they should be ticketed. When someone commits fraud, then they should be made to pay some sort of penalty.

The founders never intended to prohibit sick people from seeking the best method they thought wise to help themselves. The ruling of the Supreme Court allowing the federal government to prosecute those who wish to use marijuana to help heal themselves in states that allow such activity not only turns innocent people trying to help themselves into criminals, but it also destroys the rights of states and individuals to decide for themselves how to organize and take responsibility for their own lives.

Individual liberty is always the answer to any human situation. The founders wanted it that way and that is why the Constitution was created, to restrict the massive power of the federal government. As Justice Clarence Thomas stated, “If Congress can regulate this (medical marijuana) ... then it can regulate virtually anything and the federal government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.'

Howard J. Blitz is a local libertarian and president of The Freedom Library Inc., 2435 S. 8th Ave. His e-mail address is info@

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