This article in the SFGate notes that
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer sided with two medical marijuana patients Wednesday in their U.S. Supreme Court battle with the Bush administration, arguing that patients who use locally grown marijuana in states that allow it should be protected from federal drug enforcement.
“The federal government has limited authority to interfere with state legislation enacted for the protection of citizen health, safety and welfare, ” Lockyer’s office said in papers filed with the court on behalf of California, Maryland and Washington, three of the 11 states with medical marijuana laws.
This is good news.
Perhaps a little more surprising, however, is the support that has come from other quarters, demonstrating that the ramifications of this case could be huge.
The states of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi have also filed briefs against the government. Are you trying to remember when those states passed medical marijuana laws? Don’t strain yourself. They haven’t, and aren’t likely to do so anytime soon.
“This is not a case about drug-control policy or (patients’) fundamental rights,” said lawyers from the Alabama attorney general’s office. “The point is that, as a sovereign member of the federal union, California is entitled to make for itself the tough policy choices that affect its citizens.”
Strong words, but it’s important to remember that there is an essential element to federalism that must not be lost. As Justice Brandeis said:
…to stay experimentation in things social and economic is a grave responsibility.æ Denial of theæright to experiment may be fraught with serious æconsequences to the nation.æ It is one of the happyæincidents of the federal system that a single courageousæstate may, if its citizens choose, serve as aælaboratory, and try novel social and economicæexperiments without risk to the rest of the country.