Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Looking Out for the Drug Dealers

Somebody has to, right? It’s not like they have a union, or unemployment insurance, or health benefits. So why not the federal government? Just because illegal drug dealers are often violent and dangerous criminals doesn’t mean they don’t deserve protection from economic hardship, does it? And who better to protect them than Uncle Sam?

In case you didn’t know it, the U.S. government, under the guise of enforcing the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, is lending a helping hand to some of our society’s worst scum. And they are openly admitting it. The government uses the Commerce Clause as justification for the Controlled Substances Act and the war on drugs.

Article I, Section 8 (the Commerce Clause):
The Congress shall have power . . . To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

I’ve often wondered how regulating interstate commerce could, by any stretch of the imagination, have anything whatsoever to do with individuals who grow marijuana for their own personal consumption or for medical use within a state. How could interstate commerce possibly be involved in such circumstances?

Well, I’ve finally discovered the answer and, let me tell you, it has to be one of the most insane “loopholes” the government has ever come up with to justify their unconscionable behavior. Here’s the way their pretzel logic works: Even if you grow marijuana only for yourself with no other human being or exchange of money involved, you are still affecting “commerce” because when you grow and consume marijuana yourself, it’s that much less that you are buying from illegal drug dealers. The same applies to medical marijuana, because its price undercuts what the illegal dealers are charging and cuts into their profits. Why buy from a dealer when you can get it from a clean, safe, and relatively inexpensive dispensary? So what the government is saying is that you’re going to put illegal drug dealers out of business if you’re allowed to grow your own or buy it from a legal dispensary. And that, in a nutshell, is how regulation of interstate commerce fits into the picture. It doesn’t matter that the commerce being regulated is illegal, or that the government technically doesn’t want that commerce to even exist. If the government wants to do something, and a Constitutional amendment is too much trouble, they will always find a loophole in the Constitution. (For more information on the U.S. Supreme Court decision that justifies this position, check out Raich v. Ashcroft, which uses as a precedent Wickard v. Filburn.)

OK. In a twisted, perverted sort of way the government’s logic is, at least in this case, internally consistent. But it is definitely not consistently applied. A good example of the inconsistency would be the situation with homegrown versus mass-produced vegetables. I grow my own tomatoes and, as a result, rarely purchase supermarket or farm stand tomatoes. By the logic applied to marijuana, I should not be allowed to do this because none of my money goes to the commercial tomato industry. Yet the Commerce Clause is not applied to the tomato situation. Could it be that our government cares more about criminal drug dealers than the domestic tomato industry? Or could it be that homegrown tomatoes will soon be illegal? Either way, I wouldn’t be too surprised.

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