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7:59 PM Tue, Jan. 22nd

Marvin's Window

Supreme Court decision was not really about marijuana

Marvin Robertson

Marvin Robertson

I looked out my window wondering at the surrounding landmarks that I use to know where I am in this geographic region.

The landmarks give me a sense of place and let me know where I am located. No confusion there.

The medical marijuana debate that continues after the Supreme Court ruled this month that federal drug law trumps state medical marijuana law leaves a debate based on everything except solid logic and/or landmarks.

First, the decision had nearly nothing to do with marijuana use of any kind. The court simply confirmed, as they have done over time, that federal law trumps state law.

They have done that on abortion, international trade, automobile mileage standards, civil rights and thousands of other issues.

The votes of the court on the medical marijuana state laws were curious.

Three justices considered to be conservative voted to uphold states rights and would have allowed the state regulation of medical marijuana.

All the liberal judges who would likely have upheld an individual's right to use marijuana voted to void the appeals court decision and upheld federal law.

Again, the decision was based entirely on federal versus states rights and had nothing to do with marijuana.

The court did a similar thing when the "under God" phrase in the pledge came before them recently. The decision tuned on the father's lack of standing to bring the case to court. He did not even know that the child was his for several years.

It amazes me how often court cases are settled on some technical legal issues that allow the court to sidestep the issue we think they will decide.

Prayer in public places and schools remains confusing because the court has made some confusing rulings in various cases that each side uses to make practical daily decisions.

A second confusing element of the medical marijuana ruling concerns the conflict between normal processes in approval of drugs prescribed by doctors and the information on medical uses of marijuana.

Drug companies are sued regularly because carefully researched drugs turn out to have side effects that cause damage. Several painkillers have been taken off the market recently because some patients may have serious health issues "caused" by the drug.

Yet, some people want medical marijuana to enter that same drug market with totally inadequate research. Drug companies foot the bill to research their drugs. I expect no marijuana producers or drug dealers want to foot the bill for research on the medical uses of marijuana and the possible side effects.

If a patient decides to drive after smoking medical marijuana and runs over a pedestrian, who would be sued? That is, who is accountable?

National statistics indicated that alcohol and marijuana are the two drugs that account for the majority of patients for drug addiction treatment.

One is legal and one is not. Both cause major problems in our society.

The problems with alcohol did not disappear with repeal of prohibition.

The problems were easier to ignore. Alcohol is a major problem on college campuses and kills many people in auto accidents.

Legalizing marijuana, for any reason, including medical use, would make the issue easier to ignore.

When the citizens of this country decide that alcohol and marijuana are more dangerous to health than tobacco, public opinion will force a proper solution.

Tobacco causes far fewer deaths on the highways and does not fill mental health clinics and prisons with DUIs and destroy families.

Sir Walter Raleigh discovered tobacco during his first visit to the Virginia colony. Indians were smoking it. He took the new discovery to England, where it was touted for medical use.

Now, tobacco is considered a nasty habit and a major health hazard.

The identity of the Supreme Court justices that voted on each side of the medical marijuana issue confuses the current conflict over the appointment of federal judges and the selection of the next Supreme Court judge.

When conservatives vote for medical marijuana and liberals vote against, I am confused.

Law and judicial decision seem to be constructed to cause confusion and avoid clear direction.

Maybe that is why President Bill Clinton could redefine sex to exclude oral sex. Or why Clinton has many of us still trying to figure out his comment that "It depends on what 'is' is."

The bottom line on medical marijuana is clear to me. Do the research and determine the facts and let the medical researchers and the Federal Drug Administration make a decision based on the facts.

If marijuana has actual medical benefits, the research will show that.

However, a doctor in California giving prescription for a reported $400 to anyone coming in the door does nothing for those that argue the benefits. According to news reports, that doctor never asks any questions about the patient's medical history. Just give me the money and you get the prescription.

I like those solid geographic landmarks that tell me where I am.

That view from my window avoids the confusion generated by many legal arguments and decisions.

Marvin Robertson writes a weekly column for the Miner.