By Doug Newman

February 20, 2010

Letters to the Editor
Denver Post
101 W. Colfax Avenue
Denver, CO 80202



It is not just about “getting stoned.” The debate over medical marijuana is part of a much larger discussion about the Constitution and about liberty in general.


The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution protects your and my right to do all kinds of things, regardless of whether other people approve. It protects, among other things, the rights of parents to educate their children as they see fit and of sick people to medicate themselves as they see fit. It doesn’t matter how noble or high-minded your reason might be: when you deny these rights to others, don’t complain when your own rights are one day denied.


And if you would deny the rights of others to use marijuana for medical purposes, consider this: suppose one day you are in excruciating pain and have exhausted all other avenues for obtaining relief. Would you still be opposed to medical marijuana? It is always easy to demand that your government "do something" when your own interests are not at stake.


The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution forbids Uncle Sam from engaging in any activity not expressly authorized elsewhere in the Constitution. Many of the same people who properly point out that the Constitution forbids federal control of health care support federal intrusions on people who grow and use marijuana. Where does the Constitution authorize this? Nowhere! Don’t say you oppose federal control of health care when for years you have supported denying sick people access to marijuana. I hope I am not the only one who sees the hypocrisy in this.


Whenever you give Uncle Sam unauthorized powers, even for a very good reason, just remember that there are plenty of people with different philosophies and priorities than yours. And if you will ignore the Constitution for your own purposes, don’t expect others to behave differently.


Douglas F. Newman

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Freely Speaking: Essays by Doug Newman