Vital Signs

Killing Off Limited Government

The federal government cannot ban criminals from bringing guns to schools, but it can arrest a person for growing marijuana at home to ease nausea from chemotherapy.  Such is the state of Supreme Court jurisprudence.

The intellectual case for the “War on Drugs” faded long ago.  Criminalization of what is primarily a moral and health problem has done little to stop substance abuse.  But draconian enforcement efforts have done much to generate violent street crime, disrupt and destroy neighborhoods, imprison millions of nonviolent offenders, and spread conflict to nations from Afghanistan to Colombia.  Moreover, the War on Drugs has penalized the desperately ill and dying, who have turned to pot as a last resort.

A decade ago, California legalized medical marijuana.  Ten other states followed, allowing patients—suffering from such diseases as AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis—to smoke grass for relief from nausea and pain.  Although state troopers and local police no longer toss these users in jail, Uncle Sam continues to arrest even those who are dying.

Never mind that Congress is dominated by Republicans who claim to believe in federalism, state autonomy, and limited government.  Washington busily overrides states that seek to protect the sick.  (Not every conservative is so hypocritical.  To his credit, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher...

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