Magazine article Insight on the News

Smoking out Clinton's Stand on Marijuana

Magazine article Insight on the News

Smoking out Clinton's Stand on Marijuana

Article excerpt

Wonders never cease in Bill Clinton's White House. The first president to admit smoking marijuana has launched a war on the terminally ill and doctors who believe pot will ease their pain. Such physicians, who prescribe marijuana to AIDS and cancer patients to relieve or reverse their symptoms, could lose their federal prescription-writing licenses, forgo payment by Medicare and Medicaid or face prosecution as drug dealers. Beyond its sheer cruelty, this federal plan to thwart the citizens of California and Arizona -- who voted last November to allow medical marijuana prescriptions -- treats the Constitution like rolling paper.

As arrogant as a Russian monarch, drug czar Barry McCaffrey seems to hold Californians and Arizonans in contempt. He says voters there approved "hoax referendums" [sic] while "asleep at the switch." Hmmm. Does Czar Barry believe these voters also were snoozing when they gave a total of 62 electoral votes to Bill Clinton?

Clinton and Czar Barry need to meditate on the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. It reads: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." In this case, the 10th Amendment demands that, unless the Constitution explicitly permits Washington to regulate what doctors prescribe to their patients, such rules are left to the states or the people. Since the Constitution is mum on this matter, its none of Washington's business.

This fact is even more obvious because Californians and Arizonans have spoken via these referenda, approving them by 56 and 65 percent, respectively. Its one thing for the federal government to frustrate the popular will to protect the constitutional rights of minorities who the majority decide to oppress. Under the 14th Amendment, federal intervention was justified in the fifties and sixties to stop states in the Jim-Crow South from denying blacks their constitutional rights. It's quite another matter for Washington to stymie voters who expand a minority's freedoms without limiting the majority's liberties.

While some argue that children have a "right to a drug-free community," such a utopian entitlement must yield to the fundamental liberty of sick people to treat their diseases. Citizens do possess the right not to be struck by vehicles operated by those on marijuana, medical or otherwise. Thus, the federal role here should be limited to increasing the penalties for, say, flying across state lines while stoned. …

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