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Wed Feb 15, 2012, 01:06 AM

Did Congress legalize cannabis in the U.S?

http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2012/02/congress_oks_medical_marijuana_everywhere_with_dc.php

That would be a great way to find a "face-saving" -sort of - strategy out of this current mess. Anyone here have a take on this claim?

If one prominent attorney is right about the legal ramifications of the District of Columbia's marijuana law -- specifically, that it was approved by the U.S. Congress -- then it could be a game-changer nationwide.

D.C.'s medical marijuana law was the first time that the United States Congress had ever given its explicit assent to any state or local law that permits the medicinal use of marijuana -- and, according to a California attorney who specializes in health care compliance, that is enormously significant under the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

​In 2009, noting that it was "allowing" the voters of Washington, D.C., to vote on and implement that city's Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment law, Congress approved medicinal cannabis in the federal District of Columbia, over which it has all governmental power.


That moment is discussed here: http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2009/12/congress_ends_ban_on_medical_marijuana_in_dc.php

"States with medical marijuana programs should now be free from federal interference since Congress has allowed local control," attorney Matthew Pappas at Pappas Law Group, based in Long Beach, California, told Toke of the Town Monday afternoon. "Congress being the legislative branch of the federal sovereign and the only body that can change these laws has now done so by recognizing the voting rights of Washington, D.C., citizens."


via wiki- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_Protection_Clause

Equal Protection Clause

The Equal Protection Clause, part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, provides that "no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The Equal Protection Clause can be seen as an attempt to secure the promise of the United States' professed commitment to the proposition that "all men are created equal" by empowering the judiciary to enforce that principle against the states. The Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause applies only to state governments, but the requirement of equal protection has been read to apply to the federal government as a component of Fifth Amendment due process.

More concretely, the Equal Protection Clause, along with the rest of the Fourteenth Amendment, marked a great shift in American constitutionalism. Before the enactment of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Bill of Rights protected individual rights only from invasion by the federal government. After the Fourteenth Amendment was enacted, the Constitution also protected rights from abridgment by state leaders and governments, even including some rights that arguably were not protected from abridgment by the federal government. In the wake of the Fourteenth Amendment, the states could not, among other things, deprive people of the equal protection of the laws.

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Reply Did Congress legalize cannabis in the U.S? (Original post)
RainDog Feb 2012 OP
MADem Feb 2012 #1
RainDog Feb 2012 #3
MADem Feb 2012 #4
RainDog Feb 2012 #2
RainDog Feb 2012 #5
annabanana Feb 2012 #6
RainDog Feb 2012 #7
RainDog Feb 2012 #8

Response to RainDog (Original post)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 01:50 AM

1. Congress--too clever by half!

They insist upon keeping their "overseer" (with all the implications that word entails) role over the District, and they may have inadvertently opened a door leading to unintended consequences.

Or, who knows, maybe they're all a bunch of closeted stoners!

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Response to MADem (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 02:13 AM

3. I expect we'll hear more about this

from lawyers in various states, if it can be read as unequal protection from federal law.

I wonder if it matters if D.C. has made certain provisions, or if equal protection would mean that all states can implement their own policies?

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Response to RainDog (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 02:15 AM

4. It will be interesting to see it play out! nt

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 02:03 AM

2. From the second link, above

​This was posted in Dec. 2009 - the removal of the Barr Amendment made it possible to implement the medical marijuana bill voted on by residents of DC in 1998 - and never implemented.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"This is not only a huge victory for medical marijuana patients and for D.C. self-government; it marks a history-making shift on the medical marijuana issue," Houston said. "This is the first time Congress has ever given its assent to a state or local law that permits medical use of marijuana.

"Coming on top of the announcement that the Department of Justice will not interfere with state medical marijuana laws, this shows that the ground has fundamentally shifted," Houston said. "It's time for the federal government to take the logical next step as the American Medical Association just suggested, and reconsider marijuana's classification as a Schedule I drug, which bars medical use."


well, a couple of years later... the courts and DEA seem to have a broader interpretation of that statement than many.

Oh, but what was the Barr amendment? - and isn't it funny that, when Barr's legislative district was redistricted by a GA Democratically-controlled legislature, Barr lost in part b/c his opponent ran against Barr as an extremist drug warrior - and Barr suddenly converted to "libertarianism" and b/c a lobbyist for the MPP?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Barr

Barr was originally a strong supporter of the War on Drugs, reflecting his previous experience as an Anti-Drug Coordinator for the United States Department of Justice. While in Congress, he was a member of the Speaker's Task Force for a Drug-Free America. This task force was established in 1998 by then-Speaker Newt Gingrich to "design a World War II-style victory plan to save America's children from illegal drugs." The task force crafted legislation specifically designed to "win the War on Drugs by 2002".


Barr advocated complete federal prohibition of medical marijuana. In 1998, he successfully blocked implementation of Initiative 59 the "Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998" which would have legalized medical marijuana in Washington, D.C. The "Barr Amendment" to the 1999 Omnibus spending bill not only blocked implementation of Initiative 59, but also prohibited the vote tally from even being released. Nearly a year passed before a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union eventually revealed the initiative had received 69 percent of the vote. In response to the judge's ruling, Barr simply attached another "Barr Amendment" to the 2000 Omnibus spending bill that overturned Initiative 59 outright. The Barr Amendment also prohibited future laws that would "decrease the penalties for marijuana or other Schedule I drugs" in Washington, D.C. This preemptively blocked future attempts by Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) to reform marijuana laws in DC via the initiative process. In March 2002, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan struck down this portion of the Barr Amendment as being an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. Barr's response to the ruling was defiant:

Clearly, the court today has ignored the constitutional right and responsibility of Congress to pass laws protecting citizens from dangerous and addictive narcotics, and the right of Congress to exert legislative control over the District of Columbia as the nation's capital. Bob Barr, March 28, 2002


The federal government later prevailed on appeal, reinstating the Barr Amendment just in time to thwart MPP's initiative 63 -- "The Medical Marijuana Initiative of 2002" -- which had already qualified for the November 2002 ballot. In 2009, both the United States Senate and House of Representatives voted to lift the ban against a medical marijuana initiative, effectively overturning the Barr Amendment.

Barr would later reverse his position on medical marijuana, joining MPP as a lobbyist five years later. In a June 4, 2008, interview with Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report, Barr confirmed that he now supports ending marijuana prohibition, as well as the War on Drugs for which he once vehemently fought. In 2009, he was hired by the MPP to lobby to successfully overturn the amendment that he authored.


How, Barr - you're getting paid to lobby against the shitty laws you forced on everyone else who didn't want them? How... right wing of you.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2009/jul/17/medical_marijuana_us_house_overt

The US House of Representatives Thursday passed the District of Columbia appropriations bill and in so doing removed an 11-year-old amendment barring the District from implementing the medical marijuana law approved by voters in 1998. Known as the Barr amendment after then Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), the amendment has been attacked by both medical marijuana and DC home rule advocates for years as an unconscionable intrusion into District affairs.

Bob Barr, lobbied to repeal anti-medical marijuana legislation he wrote
Ironically, Barr, who was defeated in a Republican primary in 2004 in part because of his opposition to medical marijuana, has become an advocate of drug law reform -- including for repeal of his amendment. He has done stints with both the ACLU and the Marijuana Policy Project.

With Republicans in control of the House until 2006, Congress had reapproved the Barr amendment in every DC appropriations bill until this year. But even under Republican control, pressure had begun to mount after the 2004 death of DC resident Jonathan Magbie, a quadriplegic medical marijuana user who was arrested and died in a DC jail for lack of adequate medical care.

"Had the District been able to implement its medical marijuana law when it passed in 1998, Mr. Magbie may well be alive today -- and free to treat his pain as he and his doctor saw fit," Houston said. "Perhaps now nobody in the District will ever have to suffer as he and his family did simply for using the medicine that works best for them."

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 03:42 PM

5. Marketwatch posted about this one too

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/final-rules-for-legalization-of-medical-marijuana-produced-in-washington-dc-2012-02-13

Feb. 13, 2012

In 2009, noting that it was "allowing" the voters of Washington, D.C to vote on and implement that city's Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Law, Congress approved medical marijuana in the federal District of Columbia, over which it has all governmental power. On Dec. 2nd, 2011, in anticipation of the opening of dispensaries and cultivation centers, the District's mayor released final rules for the program.

States with medical marijuana programs should now be free from federal interference since Congress has allowed local control. Congress being the legislative branch of the federal sovereign and the only body that can change these laws has now done so by recognizing the voting rights of Washington, D.C. citizens. Likewise, Californians are equally protected and have the same voting rights in respect to medical marijuana. Speaking for the disabled plaintiffs in the California case Marla James vs. the cities of Costa Mesa and Lake Forest, attorney Matthew Pappas said, "Congress has turned over the area of medical marijuana to state and local governments. Through Congress's duty to equally protect everyone under the law, all patients in states with medical marijuana laws operating in full compliance with those laws should not, from now forward, be subject to previous long standing federal marijuana prohibitions."


Congress says it's legal to have mmj laws and has allowed these to stand. They will begin implementation in D.C. in March 2012 - at least that's the timeline presented.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 07:55 PM

6. Very interesting.. I'd LOVE to see some legal beagles get their

teeth into this. . .

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Response to annabanana (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 09:31 PM

7. me too - Bolling v. Sharpe

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolling_v._Sharpe

Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497 (1954), is a landmark United States Supreme Court case which deals with civil rights, specifically, segregation in the District of Columbia's public schools. Originally argued on December 1011, 1952, a year before Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), Bolling was reargued on December 8 and 9, 1953, and was unanimously decided on May 17, 1954, the same day as Brown. The Bolling decision was supplemented in 1955 with the second Brown opinion, which ordered desegregation "with all deliberate speed." Bolling did not address school desegregation in the context of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, which applies only to the states, but held that school segregation was unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In Bolling, the Court observed that the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution lacked an Equal Protection Clause, as in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court held, however, that the concepts of Equal Protection and Due Process are not mutually exclusive.


This says equal protection applies only to states, not D.C. - but that was in implementing a law in D.C., not beyond it.

Instead, this case was decided under the Due Process Clause.

The court, led by newly confirmed Chief Justice Earl Warren decided unanimously in favor of the plaintiffs. In his opinion, he noted that while the 14th Amendment, whose Equal Protection Clause was cited in Brown in order to declare segregation unconstitutional did not apply in the District of Columbia, the Fifth Amendment did apply. Thus setting up the theory of "reverse incorporation." While the 5th Amendment which was applicable in D.C. lacked an equal protection clause, Warren held that
...the concepts of equal protection and due process, both stemming from our American ideal of fairness, are not mutually exclusive.


...discrimination may be so unjustifiable as to be violative of due process.


Is allowing the federal govt to permit law in D.C. that is not granted elsewhere not discrimination against the states themselves?

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Response to RainDog (Reply #7)

Wed Feb 15, 2012, 09:45 PM

8. Due Process Clause

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Due_Process_Clause

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution each contain a Due Process Clause. The Supreme Court of the United States interprets the Clauses as providing four protections: procedural due process (in civil and criminal proceedings), substantive due process, a prohibition against vague laws, and as the vehicle for the incorporation of the Bill of Rights.

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:

or shall any person . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . . .

Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:

or shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . . .


just posting for information.

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