By Doug Newman
June 7, 2005
Posted at Liberty
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The Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the case of Gonzales v. Raich, asserting the supremacy of federal laws prohibiting the use of medicinal marijuana over state laws allowing such use, was reprehensible for a whole variety of reasons. (1) While I will not go into all of them here – indeed, I could write a book on the subject – I want to focus on the Christian response.
Let me distinguish between Christianity – i.e. what the Bible teaches – and churchianity – i.e. what happens in all too many contemporary churches.
Churchianity will respond to this decision in two ways: silence and endorsement.
Expect your pastor to say nothing about this. Most – not all, but most – pastors have sold out to an out-of-control federal government. They fear loss of their 501c3 status should they become too critical of Caesar. Moreover, they fear that an unpopular statement from the pulpit may hurt them at the collection plate. They may condemn Paris Hilton and gangsta rap, but they will not say a word against the naked evil of a government that prosecutes people for ingesting the only medicine that will relieve their pain. Even though they have a duty to confront evil, they compromise God's Word for 30 pieces of silver. (Just wait until the trickle of faith-based money becomes a deluge.)
Many church folks will endorse the Court’s decision with all the usual clichés. “Marijuana is bad.” “Marijuana causes harm.” “Marijuana is illegal for a reason.” “There are other ways to relieve pain other than marijuana.” “People who support medical marijuana are just looking for an excuse to get stoned.”
Mr. Dana May lives in Aurora, Colorado – from whence this column originates. For seven years, he has suffered from reflex sympathetic dystrophy. This disease causes so much pain that it has driven some to suicide. He describes this pain to having is “feet … in a deep fryer.” He had tried everything, including synthetic marijuana. Nothing worked. Finally, and reluctantly, he obtained a prescription for medical marijuana. It did work.
Then one day, DEA agents raided his house and tore up his marijuana “garden”, which consisted of just a few plants. When Mr. May presented his state-issued permission card, one of the brown shirts replied, “We’re DEA. We do not follow Colorado’s constitution.”
For six months after this raid, Mr. May again suffered excruciating pain because he lacked access to the only medicine that had worked. In the face of a lawsuit, the feds relented. He now grows at an undisclosed location, but still lives in fear of another Gestapo-like raid.
Put yourself, oh Holy Joe and Josephine, in Mr. May’s position. What if you were suffering so much pain? What if you had tried all the conventional treatments, including synthetic marijuana? What if none of them had worked? What if you were at the end of your emotional rope because of such excruciating pain?
(By the way, there is no such thing as a perfectly safe drug. All drugs can have harmful side effects. Indeed, a 1998 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that adverse reactions to prescription and over-the-counter medications cause 100,000 deaths and another 2.1 million injuries per year.)
Would thou still be as pious and holy as thou currently art? Or would you cast off your smelly little authoritarian orthodoxies, stop talking in clichés and use a proven remedy? I am talking to you.
Why do you care how people like Mr. May medicate themselves? Is it harming you? If you are hot and bothered about how other people whom you don't know and who are not harming anyone medicate themselves, get a life!
Jesus had harsh words for the Pharisees, when they went way overboard with their false piety and legalism.
"And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46)
Christians who applaud the Supreme Court’s medical marijuana decision are no better than the Pharisees. In this, the age of “compassionate conservatism”, what solution do you have for the Dana Mays of the world? Yeah, you! Or would you rather cling to your pathetically wretched politically correct fantasies and just let them suffer?
Conservative Christians can be just as politically correct as those secular liberals they say they hate. Their political agenda – totally unattainable – of a drug-free America takes precedence over all other considerations. The Drug War is to these folks what gay rights and racial quotas are to liberals.
They may think they are doing the world a favor, but they are imposing tyranny. Consider the words of the great Christian author C.S. Lewis:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
Nobody likes a controlling spouse, a controlling boss or a Little League parent. They always need to "make a project" out of someone else. They always say they are doing it for someone else's "own good". And they always make that person's life a living hell. History is full of overly controlling governments that made whole countries into living hells -- killing millions in some cases -- but insisted they were doing their subjects a favor.
Drug War rhetoric always appeals to “intentions” and “goals” rather than the real world implications of the Drug War. Tyrants always claim to have good intentions. We know how the road to hell is paved.
We started down this road about 100 years ago. Until then, it was perfectly legal for a 10-year-old to walk into a drug store, plop down some cash and buy heroin. And we had almost no drug problem. Parents and churches – God’s fundamental forms of government – instilled values and morals. To whine and weep and wail to Uncle Sam to solve your problems was unheard of. Indeed, the words "solve" and "problems" do not even appear in our Constitution.
Because churches and parents abdicated their responsibilities to the supposedly omnicompetent state, we have a nightmare we never could have imagined. We have more drugs than ever and more dangerous drugs than ever. Due to our absolute zealotry in using the iron fist of government to eradicate this evil, America now has the world’s highest incarceration rate.
Ideas have consequences. Bad ideas have bad consequences. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:18) To say that so much needless pain and suffering is an “unintended consequence” of drug prohibition is to ignore the fact that it was a bad idea right from the start.
(1) Concerning the constitutional aspects of the case, the Court used the Supremacy Clause to affirm the supremacy of federal law over state law. This clause, found in Article VI, reads as follows:"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."
There is a glaring problem here: this totally overlooks the Tenth Amendment, which forbids Uncle Sam from engaging in any activity not spelled out elsewhere in the Constitution. Under the Tenth Amendment, all federal drug laws are unconstitutional. All of them. Period.
Moreover, the Court based its ruling on the Commerce Clause. As if growing a little hooch at your house and ingesting it there as well somehow impacts interstate commerce! This is as absurd as saying that the vegetable garden my father maintained in the backyard when I was a kid affected interstate commerce.
This decision is an example of judicial tyranny at its worst. (Back)
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Freely Speaking: Essays by Doug Newman