SEABROOK: Okay. Let me try you on this one, Richard Stengel. A man from the Marine Corps – he’s Darryl(ph) in Bend, Oregon – writes that he uses cannabis daily to treat both his symptoms of PTSD and chronic pain, no narcotics, no alcohol. He wants to know, he uses it responsibly, and he believes that cannabis is – the prohibition of it is unconstitutional for many reasons. Your thoughts?
STENGEL: Well, of course the high court did prohibit the use of alcohol as an amendment, and then that was overturned. I’m not sure that the Constitution says very much about that. But if you look at the use of alcohol and medication, you know, state courts right now, you know, have the predominant opinion about that. And if the states can legalize marijuana, as some states have, then, you know, that’s – you should probably live in one of those states.
Oy, where do I start with that answer? First, contrary to his suggestion, the prohibition of alcohol was not enacted by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court didn’t ratify the Eighteenth Amendment. “We the people” did. Nor was the Eighteenth Amendment “overturned.” The correct answer is that it was repealed, again by “we the people.”
Secondly, the current Supreme Court says that even if a state legalizes pot, the Federal Government can still outlaw it and arrest people for violating those laws even if the state specifically makes that usage legal. That was determined in a recent case entitled Gonzales v. Raich, a fact that Stengel is apparently blissfully unaware of. He seems to think that states can prevent federal enforcement of anti-drug legislation. He is, as a matter of black letter law, wrong.