Saturday, September 29, 2007

Let's Try This Again

I wrote this a few days ago and it was posted online via a message board run by Jackie Juntti. I received a lot of positive feedback concerning it, unfortunately many were from people who only cared about the issue of legalizing marijuana, which I neither condemn nor condone in my article. I would hope that this is read with a view to the larger picture....Neal

One of my recent articles drew some criticism from a few people. It wasn't the content per se that they criticized, it was the tone in which I wrote it. I was told in one instance that I was condescending and arrogant, and in another that I sounded angry and I would be much more successful converting people to my point of view if I toned it down some.

I won't deny that I was upset when I wrote that last article, but my anger was only directed at a very small number of people with whom I work, not the audience who reads my material on the internet. If I came across that way, I sincerely apologize, for it was not my intent.

With that out of the way, I would like to try to explain what I was trying to get across before, but this time in a more civil tone.

The other night on the news there was a story about a medical marijuana lab in Sacramento that was raided by the Drug Enforcement Agency. DEA agents were on the scene prior to the lab opening for business, and as soon as the doors opened they proceeded to confiscate all their supplies and records. No one was arrested, but the facility was basically shut down.

Irregardless of whether I condone or condemn the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, or recreational for that matter, I am only using this story as an example to get my point across.

There have been some studies that prove that marijuana is indeed helpful in relieving the symptoms of some medical conditions such as glaucoma. Opponents of the medicinal use of marijuana claim that there are side effects that are serious enough to prevent it's use. If that is the case, I would like for them to think about what chemotherapy or radiation therapy does to the body, it kills cells and does serious damage to the immune system as well. Those sound like pretty serious side effects to me as well. Also, if you were to spend any amount of time watching television you have undoubtedly seen the numerous ads for prescription drugs to help you with everything from high blood pressure, restless leg syndrome, cholesterol, to erectile dysfunction. Every single one of these ads has a disclaimer at the end listing all the side effects of these drugs. Yet for some reason these drugs are acceptable, and marijuana is not.

I have strayed from my point though. The DEA raided this lab on the grounds that, although California has legalized the medicinal use of marijuana, it still violates federal law. In theory they are right, it is a violation of an existing federal law to possess and/or sell marijuana. My question is this, where does it say our federal government has the authority to create such a law? I cannot find that authority in the Constitution, anywhere.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.” So if I can't find it, and it isn't in the Constitution, how can Congress make it a law to restrict the usage of marijuana. That should decisions should be left up to the states, as clearly stated in the 10th amendment, “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.”

Once in our countries history, our government tried to mandate morality when the 18th amendment was ratified. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the 18th amendment, it instituted prohibition, which made it illegal to manufacture, sell, and transport alcoholic beverages. After it was ratified, Congress enacted the Volstead Act to begin enforcing this new Constitutional amendment. Prohibition gave a shot in the arm to organized crime and became very unpopular among the people, so in December of 1933 the 21st Amendment was ratified, which repealed the 18th amendment.

Although or government tried to impose morality upon the people of this country, the did so in a legal manner, through a constitutional amendment. The same can not be said with marijuana. Congress just decided upon itself to ban the usage of marijuana, and to hell with states rights.

Our government has declared an unconstitutional war on drugs which have done little to curb the usage but has created a monstrous agency that terrorizes American citizens, particularly those who legally use marijuana for valid medical purposes.

The Drug Enforcement Agency has 10,891 employees with an annual budget of $2.4 billion dollars. ( Every penny that is spent on this war on drugs by the DEA is an unconstitutional expenditure of your tax dollars. It should be up to the states to enact legislation either prohibiting, or legalizing the usage of marijuana.

Again, I am neither condoning, nor condemning the usage of marijuana, or any other drugs for that matter. I am only attempting to show you it is not within the federal governments scope of power to enact that type law. To help explain this better I would like to present a series of quotes by founding fathers and ex=presidents, which explain the powers of government which are granted them by the Constitution. I hope that after reading them you will come to agree that the government does not have the power to legislate drug usage.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Thomas Jefferson, from the Declaration of Independence. So, if governments are instituted among men, who institutes them?

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Okay, the people of the United States created our government.

Former President William Henry Harrison, later in our nations history, also said, “The only legitimate right to govern is an express grant of power from the governed.” So, the Constitution formed our government, and that government only operates on power that was granted to them by those who are governed, which happens to be you and I.

So is said about the Constitution itself? Abraham Lincoln said this, “Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.” Patrick Henry said this, "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests." Finally, George Washington said this, “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all.”

Washington said that the Constitution is sacredly obligatory upon all. Andrew Johnson, 17th president of the United States clarified that point by saying this regarding those who govern, “Outside of the Constitution we have no legal authority more than private citizens, and within it we have only so much as that instrument gives us. This broad principle limits all our functions and applies to all subjects."

Now you see that it was we the people that created our government, and that they have only the powers that we give to them. Those powers are described in the Constitution, and that document is the tool that limits their powers, and is obligatory upon all, until altered by an act of the people.

What do we do when our government does something we don’t like? The first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

So, we have the right to petition our government for a redress of grievances. What if they don’t listen?

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence.

“Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, most sacred right- a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to excercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize and make their own, of so much territory as the inhabit.” Abraham Lincoln

I would urge everyone reading this, who hasn’t done so already, find a copy of the Constitution and read articles 1 & 2. Learn what powers the Constitution authorizes the Congress and the President. Then decide for yourself if it is within their authority to pass federal laws which they have no legal authority to enact. Remember that the Constitution is just as valid today as it was the day it was signed in Philadelphia. Henry Clay said, "The Constitution of the United States was made not merely for the generation that then existed, but for posterity- unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity."

It is your Constitution, yours and mine. I recommend that those who are not familiar with it, become so quickly before our government is successful in dismantling it for good.

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