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View Diary: Perry and Santorum spar over marijuana & why Dems should be pushing the issue. (42 comments)

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  •  Yes, for the most part (1+ / 0-)
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    first of all, "relatively harmless" is a subjective value judgment.  If the state decides, even without a good reason, that it's a harmful plant and votes on it, courts are bound to respect that outcome.

    The question then becomes whether growing the plant "substantially affects" interstate commerce -- as long as marijuana regulation applies to drugs imported, sold in markets, and so on, the state can also regulate the growth on private land so as to avoid a loophole.  

    As to why marijuana was or wasn't made illegal, there are a confluence of factors.  Certainly race was one of them, but it's not explicit in the statute, and as long as there are potentially rational justifications the legislatures "might" have had to act as they did, the courts can't step in and second guess the actions.  (The crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity hasn't been found unconstitutional, because even though there is a noted racial motivation behind it, the fact remains that crack is more potent and is cheaper, so therefore more in need of deterrence, or so the belief goes.) It's therefore distinguishable from a statute that on its face discriminates against one group of people impermissibly (and "discriminates against marijuana users" isn't quite that, as it's not a protected class, and everyone is theoretically subject to the law, even those who never would use marijuana -- not smoking it is kind of the idea behind your various criminal statutes).

    I see no contradiction, though, with believing that marijuana laws are generally not well drawn up and believing that the federal government does have the power to prohibit it, as it has the power to prohibit or regulate other kinds of illegal drugs.  The relative safety of marijuana compared with alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, or heroin is an empirical one, and the system -- rightly or wrongly, mostly rightly -- trusts this decisionmaking to the political branches, not courts.    

    "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

    by Loge on Tue Sep 27, 2011 at 03:34:30 PM PDT

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