Sunday, November 28, 2004
War on Drugs
I'm very torn over this issue, on several levels. And the case Raich v. Ashcroft brings all of those conflicts to the fore. On the one hand, my religious beliefs have shapped my view on the power of government generally, overpowering some of my libertarian leanings. That is, I believe government morally can and should regulate and/or ban recreational drugs. Whether "medical" marijuana can be confined to just medical purposes remains to be seen, but it seems to me that general medical acceptance would naturally result in substantial spillover to supply for the high demand recreational use.
But then my view on general governmental practice comes into direct conflict with my ideals of Federalism. That is what this case, which will be argued today by Randy Barnett of Volokh.com, is really about. I heavily lean towards the view that the Constitution does not grant the Federal Government the extensive powers it now exercises in the name of regulating interstate commerce. This applies to a great extent to the Drug War as well. After all, we recognized we needed a Constitutional Amendment to pass Prohibition. It couldn't be done with just a regular old statute. Would I be betraying my religion by supporting an interpretation that would reduce the ability to eliminate recreational drugs?
Historically, the ways those in charge have interpreted Federalism have been detrimental to Mormons. First, in Missouri, the brutal treatment of those at Independance, Far West, Haun's Mill, and Nauvoo was protected under an overexpansive view of State's Rights that allowed the states to treat anyone within their borders with as much malice as they pleased. Joseph Smith's pleas to the Federal Government against prejudicial state militias went unheeded. That shield was eliminated by the Fourteenth Amendment, explicitly granting the Federal Gov't the power to enforce equal protection. However, other principles of Federalism had been undermined over the years, especially through the medium of the Commerce clause, to empower the Federal Government to persecute us again on our way to becoming a state, banning plural marriage nation-wide and forcing our leaders into hiding. Until recently, we had a very mixed history with any Government other than our own, state or federal.
So what to do? I guess I have to come down on the side of getting the Federal Gov't out of the Drug War. It's not in their job description. But let's move against the various state measures to try an limit the spread. I hope this position is not as intellectually dishonest as the New York Times' opinion, which basicaly holds because marijuana is good, the patients should win, but make sure it doesn't affect any other part of the federal nanny state. That's basicaly saying that judges should ignore the Constitution and simply make their decisions based entirely on policy, socialy liberal policy at that.
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