Presidents are supposed to be compassionate. President Obama is showing his true colors as his Department of Justice (DOJ) sent out a memo last week on medical marijuana use. The memo directed the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Attorneys’ offices nationwide to crack down on medical marijuana shops by making the investigation and prosecution thereof a top priority. Even though the (DOJ) denies it, this newest memo reverses the Administration’s previous policy on medical marijuana use. Under the so-called “Ogden memo of 2009, Obama gave habitual pain sufferers and the terminally ill “hope” by making enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) with regards to medical marijuana use a low priority. His election cycle about face is uncompassionate as it will bring great harm to many who rely on cannabis for relief.
It has been determined that medical pot is effective in treating the symptoms of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and epilepsy. As far back as 1975, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study that showed oral ingestion of marijuana is effective in relieving nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. Other benefits include the lessening of depression caused by cancer and an increase in appetite which allows cancer patients to live better more comfortable lives.
But the Administration is bent on denying this needed drug to patients. In last week’s DOJ memo, the reason given for increased enforcement of the CSA was that, “Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime that provides a significant source of revenue to large scale criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels.” Well, in the first place, marijuana’s danger is surely negated by the medical benefits of the substance. In the second place, the reason criminal gangs and cartels are making so much money on pot is precisely because Congress has made it illegal! Is there no sanity in Washington?
In the final analysis this is not the federal government’s issue to legislate. Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution does not give Congress the authority to regulate what we ingest into our bodies. The 10th Amendment reserves that power to the states. Referring back to the memo, it states that individuals, who cultivate, sell or distribute marijuana “…are subject to federal enforcement action, including potential prosecution. State laws or local ordinances are not a defense to civil or criminal enforcement of federal law with respect to such conduct, including enforcement of the CSA.” Nonsense, just because Congress doesn’t consult the Constitution before enacting legislation doesn’t mean what it says goes. It is proper and necessary for the states to interpret the Constitution and in this case take a stand against the federal government for violating their sovereignty over substance policy by nullifying the CSA.
Of course the President could nullify the CSA as well in much the same way he has stated that he will rightly nullify the Defense of Marriage Act. He simply could refuse to enforce the law. But, he answered that question in the memo released by his DOJ last week. Apparently, political points are more important to the President than relief for the suffering and the supremacy of the Constitution.
Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina