"Eeet's naht a TOO-mah!" If it were a tumor, and Arnold's treatment program included marijuana, the Feds would intervene.
Arnold Schwarzenegger suffered a fit of clarity during a recent interview with GQ, creating a small pseudo-controversy quickly cleaned up by a press aide.
Asked about drug use during the 1970s, the seven - time Mr. Olympia – whose hypertrophied form eloquently testified to the copious non-clinical use of steroids – insisted that he was clean. Reminded that millions have seen footage from the documentary Pumping Iron of the future California Chief Executive blissfully sucking on a spliff, Arnold insisted: “Marijuana is a leaf, not a drug.”
That's a perfectly defensible distinction (unlike the spurious one Arnold drew between adultery and carnal acts that fall short of the “act”). Arnold's comment, and the de rigueur “clarification” offered by his press aide, provided a brief ripple of general amusement, and the high priests of the news cycle were able to advance the story while avoiding the question of whether the remark had merit worthy of further consideration.
Marijuana is many things, both troubling and helpful. The most destructive role played by the Demon Weed is not the impact it has on the sensory perceptions of those inhabiting the Hackey-Sac and Jam Band subculture; rather, it is the exploitation of this relatively innocuous leaf by Leviathan as a way of aggrandizing its power and subsidizing its crimes.
In a society where the regulated consumption of alcohol and nicotine is perfectly legal, it makes no sense to ban consumption of cannabis. As is the case with prohibition of any kind, criminalization of marijuana has done nothing to reduce the extent of its consumption. But this is to be expected, since the War on Drugs isn't an effort to reduce narcotics use; instead, it's a singularly lucrative public works project for prosecutors, police, and others in the business of retail coercion.
Cynical sort that I am, I find myself wondering if the reason why Arnold's comments were given such wide circulation was to help bury a more noteworthy marijuana-related story – the death, by suicide, of 50-year-old Montana resident Robin Prosser on October 18. For decades, the Missoula woman suffered from systemic lupus, an immunosuppressive disorder that attacked her internal organs and slowly robbed her of the ability to live a normal life, leaving in the place of her stolen physical skills a residue of ever-growing chronic pain.
At one time, Robin was a well-paid systems analyst with a refined gift for playing the piano. At the time of her untimely death last week, she was living in a small, unventilated apartment, penniless and deeply in debt, unable even to go for a long walk: What for most people would be the welcome caress of sunlight to her would be an unbearable assault. Like many others dealing with chronic pain produced by incurable degenerative diseases, Robin benefited from the medical use of marijuana.
Robin was elated when Montana voters approved the state's Medical Marijuana Act in 2004. Although she was probably too weak and tired to be outraged by the Supreme Court's Gonzalez v. Raich decision the following year upholding the federal government's claim that it could ignore state laws permitting the medical use of marijuana, enforcing its own edicts by arresting sick people who use marijuana for the purposes of pain abatement and the compassionate health care providers who help them obtain it.
The Raich decision is marked by a singular cruelty. The majority opinion concedes that the California residents who brought the case, Angel Raich and Diane Monson, are people suffering from incurable diseases who endure “excruciating pain” and could die without the medically supervised use of marijuana. Neither of them was “trafficking” in marijuana; Monson cultivated her own, Raich received hers through two anonymous caregivers. Their behavior was perfectly legal under California's 1996 “Compassionate Use Act,” and had no nexus of any kind with “interstate commerce.”
When deputy sheriffs, in the loathsome company of a group of armed parasites from the DEA, visited Monson's home in August 2002, they concluded that “her use of marijuana was lawful as a matter of California law. Nevertheless, after a 3-hour standoff, the federal agents seized and destroyed all six of her cannabis plants.”
For this act of malicious vandalism, the feds should have been arrested by the deputies and frog-marched to the nearest jail. The deputies should have turned their guns on the Feds and defended Monson's right to life and her personal property – which is the sole reason why the office of County Sheriff exists in the Anglo-Saxon Common Law tradition. Instead, they behaved in the fashion we should expect, now that the Homeland Security apparatus has absorbed every formerly independent police agency in the country.
Given that Monson's behavior was perfectly legal and absolutely necessary for her survival, why did the Court rule against her?
"Everything within the State; nothing outside the State; nothing against the State": That was Mussolini's totalitarian formula, symbolized by the Fasces, which can be seen at left in an Axis commemorative stamp, and in the U.S. House of Representatives behind the Speaker's chair (see below).
This case “is made difficult by [Raich and Monson's] strong arguments that they will suffer irreparable harm because, despite a congressional finding to the contrary, marijuana does have valid therapeutic purposes,” the Court allowed, with “Justice” Stevens employing that tone of sympathetic regret often used by people making indefensible decisions that harm innocent people.
However, the Court was zealous to preserve the power of Congress, as the legislative appendage of the Leviathan, to impose its will on the entire American population – even when doing so results in unambiguously bad policy that expands the compass of human misery. This is because central government supremacy must be maintained at any cost.
According to Stevens' opinion in Raich, the controlling precedent is the pernicious Wickard v. Filburn, the 1942 ruling that turned the Constitution's Commerce Clause into a license for totalitarian regulation. On Comrade Stevens' reading, “Wickard ... establishes that Congress can regulate purely intrastate activity that is not itself `commercial,' in that it is not produced for sale, if it concludes that failure to regulate that class of activity would undercut the regulation of the interstate market in that commodity.”
In the case of Wickard, the commodity was wheat grown by a farmer purely for his own consumption on a tract of land he owned; in Raich, the commodity was marijuana produced solely for the consumption of individual patients under medical supervision (and in Monson's case, she grew her own). Yet because Congress has decreed that marijuana grown and consumed under such circumstances could affect interstate commerce in some way only those omniscient seers can detect, it has the power to criminalize that activity.
Most likely for tactical reasons, the respondents in the Raich case didn't challenge the constitutionality of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention Act; after all, they weren't trying to decriminalize narcotics, they were simply trying to compel the Feds to respect state medical marijuana laws. But in any case, the Court isn't receptive to the idea that there are limits of some sort on the powers of the central government:
“The Supremacy Clause unambiguously provides that if there is any conflict between federal and state law, federal law shall prevail. It is beyond peradventure that federal power over commerce is `superior to that of the States to provide for the welfare or necessities of their inhabitants,' however legitimate or dire those necessities may be.... Just as state acquiescence to federal regulation cannot expand the bounds of the Commerce Clause, ... so too state action cannot circumscribe Congress' plenary commerce power.”
Here Stevens was just a tad precious in trying to demonstrate his even-handedness: His attempt at dialectical symmetry falls apart when he refers to the congressional commerce power as “plenary,” which would mean that it had no place to “expand.” But he's lying (no other word fits) in his depiction of the Supremacy Clause.
The entire point of enumerating federal powers is to restrain the central government to the specific enumerated functions. The entire point of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments is to protect individual rights and reserved state powers against federal encroachments.
And as James Madison instructs us in Federalist essay number 45, under the Constitution it is the states, not the central government, that have plenary authority to deal with “all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State” -- including the issue of whether or not critically ill people can exercise their God-given right to seek palliative care in the form of medical marijuana.
In his concise and well-reasoned dissent from the Raich majority, Justice Thomas points out: “In the early days of the Republic, it would have been unthinkable that Congress could prohibit the cultivation, possession, and consumption of marijuana.”
By ratifying the Bush Regime's policy of ignoring state medical marijuana laws, “Here, Congress has encroached on States' traditional police powers to define the criminal law and protect the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens.... Further, the Government's rationale – that it may regulate the production or possession of any commodity for which there is an interstate market – threatens to remove the remaining vestiges of States' traditional police powers.”
And this is the entire point, of course – not only of this execrable Supreme Court decision, but of the entire War on Drugs: The consolidation of a unitary, omnipotent State.
To the soul-dead functionaries building that system, the sufferings of Robin Prosser (may she rest in God's peace) and others in her condition are a painful but necessary sacrifice – incense on the altar of the Almighty State.
In March of this year, the DEA – acting on a tip from a UPS employee – confiscated a package bound for Robin Prosser that contained less than an ounce of marijuana. Displaying what he probably thought was heroic magnanimity, Jeff Sweetin, the DEA's regional commissar, said that Prosser wouldn't face prosecution.
“We're kind of protecting people from their own state laws,” gloated Sweetin. “Give me liberty, or give me death,” responded Prosser in a despairing newspaper column.
To be free of the besetting pain inflicted needlessly on her by the paternalistic State, Prosser had to die. Tell me again: In what sense is this a genuinely free country?
The late Robin Prosser shares a first-hand account of her plight:
Here we see Robo-Republican Mitt “Double Guantanamo” Romney confronted by Clayton Holdon, who uses medical marijuana to treat his muscular dystrophy. This exchange from October 6 dispels at least one of the mysteries surrounding Mitt: Given the place he stores his head most of the time, it's no wonder the 60-year-old candidate's hair remains dark brown.
Dum spiro, pugno!