“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This text is known as the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and it is the one most commonly overlooked by our federal government. In regard to one issue in particular, four states in the past few months have taken it upon themselves to formally petition the comical tragedy, which is marijuana prohibition. Specifically, Vermont, Colorado, Rhode Island and Washington have asked the Drug Enforcement Agency to reclassify marijuana into the same category as medically approved drugs such as Morphine and Oxycodone in order to prevent federal interference in medical marijuana treatment.
Already, sixteen states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation legalizing marijuana for medical usage; however, under the current federal laws, doctors and patients in these states who partake in these practices can be sent to prison. Many doctors and state sanctioned growers in these states have been arrested by the DEA and charged with severe federal felonies. The Controlled Substance Act classifies marijuana as a schedule 1 narcotic, or an illegal drug with absolutely no medical usage. Other drugs with this categorization include cocaine and methamphetamine, two drugs which are extremely addictive and deadly. In 2010 MDMA or “ecstasy” was approved by the FDA for medical usage in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Despite the fact, doctors throughout the country can use dangerous drugs such as MDMA or morphine on a regular basis with little government interference; doctors prescribing the much safer marijuana treatment are considered federal criminals and are being incarcerated.
Considering marijuana’s vast medical benefits, and the fact it has never been found to cause a single death or any major side effects, the reality that this beneficial plant is federally prohibited is an embarrassment to a nation that takes pride in its civil liberties. Many people view the marijuana issue as one which is supported by hippies and liberals, but this is entirely false. Supporting medical marijuana is supporting small government and true conservative values. One cannot say they are an honest conservative who believes in small government if they advocate federal interference in a state-approved practice. Classical conservatism in this country was built on the foundation that states are independent entities that have the power to make their own laws under the Constitution that will best suit their citizens. In America today, states rights have been eroded severely and one of the most obvious instances of this is the medical marijuana issue.
The DEA has said that it will take the states’ petitions into serious consideration, but that any reclassification would take several years to actually go into effect. Also, before any major changes could indeed occur the FDA would have to change its current stance on the drug which states that “no sound scientific studies support its use.” Nonetheless states will continue to exercise their right to pass legislation which loosens the restraints on medical marijuana practices. In fact, during the upcoming 2012 elections, citizens in California and Colorado will vote whether or not to make marijuana legal recreationally, much to the federal government’s opposition. Until a serious change is made in the current federal law, this pathetic chess match between the states and the federal government will continue.