The legal implications of passing medical law constitutional administrative essay

FROM: Pragya HandaRE: The legal implications of passing medical marijuana laws in PennsylvaniaDATE: March 7th, 3013The legal question under consideration here is what effect any State medical marijuana legislature passed under Pennsylvania law would have in conjunction to Federal Law. Will any future medical marijuana program violate Federal law? Does the Federal government have the power to limit the passage of medical marijuana laws by the States? If state law enforcement officials will not raid medicinal marijuana providers, do Federal law enforcement officials have the legal right to do so? Each of the above multifaceted questions with it nuances and implications must be considered in its own right. After a careful examination of federal statutes and various precedents established by common law, it can be determined that decriminalization and even medical marijuana state laws violate the Federal Law. The federal government led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has the legal right to raid and prosecute medical marijuana providers and users anywhere within the United States. However despite that, federal government does not have the power to limit the passage of medical marijuana laws by the states and cannot rely on or compel State officials to prosecute a federal crime in opposition to the State law. Many States such as California currently have a medicinal marijuana program. Under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, ” seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician”. However, the State Law is preceded by the Federal Controlled Substances Act (21 U. S. C. §8XXX) which grants the Federal Government jurisdiction over possession, distribution and consumption of all drugs, including marijuana under the Congress’ Commerce Clause authority. Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I under this Act drug which makes it unlawful for all U. S. citizens ” to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance”. This is direct opposition of the California State Law and thus is clearly violating Federal Law. Under the supremacy clause, in a conflict between Federal and State law, Federal law always prevails. ” Federal law applies throughout California and the United States, not just on federal property” (Americans for Safe access)However, while the California State Marijuana law infringes upon federal law, under the tenth Amendment the federal government does not have legal power to limit the passage of these laws. The 10th Amendment states that ” 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.” This essentially means that the federal government cannot make or prohibit laws with respect to individual States outside the jurisdiction afforded to them under the Inter-State commerce clause. In United States v. Lopez, Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990, a federal law mandating a gun-free zone on and around public school campuses, was struck down because, ” criminal statute that by its terms has nothing to do with ” commerce” or any sort of economic enterprise, however broadly one might define those terms.” The inter-state commerce clause did not hold and made it unconstitutional for the Congress to dictate such criminal laws whose jurisdiction belonged solely in the hands of the State. Similarly, in Printz v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled the Brady Handgun Prevention Act that mandated state and local law enforcement officials to conduct background checks on persons attempting to purchase handguns was unconstitutional and violated the 10th Amendment. Under the CSA act and consequent federal sentencing decrees play a role in how State governments formulate their local marijuana laws. ” In United States v. Booker, a Supreme Court decision from January 2005, the court ruled that the federal sentencing guidelines (as outlined above) are advisory and no longer mandatory.” (Americans for Safe Access)The Act further states that there is ” No provision of this subchapter shall be construed as indicating an intent on the part of the Congress to occupy the field in which that provision operates, including criminal penalties, to the exclusion of any State law on the same subject matter which would otherwise be within the authority of the State”. The Constitution does not allow for the federal government either to order state governments to create any particular criminal law or to require state and local police to enforce federal criminal laws. This means that many of the penalties for the low-level offenses mostly consisting of small-quantity possession and consumption charges, even with prior convictions, do not have minimum mandatory sentencing laws. The sentencing guidelines are solely advisory with specifications set for only the maximum penalty limit. As such they are not legally binding on States who are free to set their own sentencing to such offenses. This brings us to the question of prosecution of offenders of the federal marijuana law in such States. In Gonzales v. Raich, a recent and relevant case highlighting the contention between the State and Federal law, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Federal government on the issue of ” whether Congress’ power to regulate interstate markets for medicinal substances encompasses the portions of those markets that are supplied with drugs produced and consumed locally.” In this case, a California woman sued the Drug Enforcement Administration after her medical marijuana crop was seized and destroyed by federal agents. The ruling of this case neither invalidates the California Law while at the same time establishing the supremacy of Federal Law and enabling but not advocating prosecution of such patients by federal agents. This case establishes that marijuana as an economic ” class of activities” that has a substantial effect on interstate commerce. As stated in Wickard v. Filburn, ” even if appellee’s activity be local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce.” This virtually ensures that all activities related to this drug, whether inter or intrastate fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal government to prosecute as they choose. The responsibility of prosecuting such individuals in states is solely the responsibility of the Federal government. In People v. Tilehkooh (2003), the court found that California courts ” long ago recognized that state courts do not enforce the federal criminal statutes.” The same court also stated ” the federal criminal law is cognizable as such only in the federal courts.” The state officials and police cannot be coerced or even expected to prosecute on the basis of Federal law over State law. In conclusion, as long as Marijuana remains a Section I drug under the Federal Controlled substances Act and its medical purposes are not proven and established on the federal level, any medical marijuana law contrary to it passed by a State violates federal law. This allows federal law enforcement officials to prosecute medical marijuana patients, even if they grow their own medicine and even if they reside in a state where medical marijuana use is protected under state law. Even small levels of local marijuana are under Federal jurisdiction through its Commerce clause authority established by the Supreme Court. While the federal government does not have the legal power to directly limit such state laws, it does have the power to prosecute vigorously under individuals in all of U. S under it and withhold grants to states until anti-marijuana legislation is restored.