Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Federalism, we hardly knew ye

John Stossel interviews San Luis Obispo (CA) County Sheriff Pat Hedges, whose department investigated medical marijuana purveyor Charlie Lynch, who was operating within the state law. Hedges insists that Lynch was breaking California law, but no charges were filed to that effect. Instead, he cooperated with the DEA and the US Department of Justice to file charges in Federal court. Lynch's defense was forbidden to tell the jury that California has a law allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana.

Can someone show me where in the US Constitution it says that Congress can make a law regulating marijuana grown in California, sold in California, and consumed in California? I've read that thing literally hundreds of times, and I can't find where it has that kind of power. I've heard some wacky theories the Supreme Court has entertained to justify things like the USDA sticking its nose into intrastate agricultural dealings, but none of them make any sense to me.


  1. I hope this goes to SCOTUS and they do the right thing. This is obviously beyond the authority of the feds to interfere in. As you say, grown, sold, and used within one state, and not in contravention of any laws of that state. It's time the courts start actually enforcing the Constitutional restrictions on the Federal government. Yes, I don't expect it to happen either. But the tremendous patience of the American people is not unlimited. We're all hearing rumblings about a need to reign in the overwheening government, whatever it takes. It may not take much at all to turn that into more than just rumblings...

  2. I'm sure they'll use some tortured legal "logic" to determine that, even though it does not cross state boundaries, the potential for it to do so invokes the Interstate Commerce clause.

    Similar to that bill they are looking at in the House (HR 875), which explicitly assumes the commerce clause to be in effect in regulating the sale of produce, even if it's at a Farmer's Market in the middle of the State.

  3. Wayne, that's the tortured logic I referred to before. By producing a crop for consumption within the borders of a state, the farmer is involved in interstate commerce by competing with those producers who actually do send their produce across state lines.

    This reasoning effectively allows Congress to pass any law it damn feels like.


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