JazzOne wrote: invisiblesun wrote: JazzOne wrote:
invisiblesun wrote:IMO the government should err on the side of increased freedom, so the burden of justification should be placed on those wanting to outlaw something, not those wanting to legalize it. Marijuana prohibition was not in effect for the majority of human history, and marijuana was a widely used drug historically (largely for painkiller/anti-anxiety purposes). It was also outlawed for pretty poor reasons. A justifiable reason to outlaw a drug is that access to the drug causes substantial harm to the individual and/or causes substantial negative externalities, either of which outweigh any benefit derived from allowing people access to the drug. It's a perfectly reasonable and "intellectually forceful" argument to compare the harm/externalities of a drug to other drugs that our government has chosen to allow. Since research has shown that marijuana is inherently less harmful and has fewer negative externalities than both tobacco and alcohol, the onus to provide a justification is on those who want to keep it illegal.
Unfortunately, that's not how our legal system works. The onus is always on the proponents of changing the law. And since marijuana is illegal according to federal law and a majority of states' laws, we have a major burden to overcome. Those who favor prohibition of marijuana have no burden whatsoever since the status quo means they win. The arguments presented here have achieved only limited success in decriminalizing marijuana, which is why I think we need more intellectually forceful arguments. We not only have to convince the legislatures that we're right, but we also have to convince them that this issue is important enough to take action. A simple comparison of the harms of marijuana and other legal drugs will not suffice. We have to go the extra step of showing that the current policy violates civil rights. Thus, I propose targeted law suits on behalf of sympathetic plaintiffs attacking the constitutionality of the current ban on marijuana. A comparison of marijuana's dangers might be a part of that argument, but the comparison alone cannot achieve the goal we desire.
I agree with you in practical terms. That being said, I think the argument I mentioned is pretty intellectually forceful, although probably not sufficiently politically effective. Unfortunately, there can be a pretty wide divide between those two.
Yeah, I've been mulling over this problem for years, and I continue to think about it as I gain more legal knowledge. The proposal that I have made in previous posts is a model that Thurgood Marshall used to bring down segregation laws. I understand that the liberties at stake here are not as pressing as those of the civil rights movement, but I still think that Marshall unlocked a very clever strategy for dealing with draconian morality laws. The key is finding sympathetic plaintiffs whose lives have been harmed substantially by enforcement of marijuana laws. But I don't know enough about con law to really develop the argument that these harms constitute deprivations of protected liberties. If I thought I could get away with it, I'd write a law review article about this. I just don't know if I want that following me around on my CV
Why do you think it would be harmful to you or your career at some point in the future? Do you have an interest in working for a state or federal prosecutor, or some other position in the state or federal government? Do you want to be a judge? Are there any other positions you think this might have a negative impact on your career?
I'm only guessing, but I figure aside from being a prosecutor or working for the federal government, it shouldn't be regarded as a red flag if you work for a firm or go corporate. In fact, many of my law professors spoke frequently and with interest about marijuana laws last semester during orientation and the semester. There was a seminar/dialogue/debate thing with a district attorney and a professor to discuss the legalization (this was before CA voted down prop 19). I was not able to attend, but the fact that the school sponsored such an event suggests that is not quite a career death wish to write a note. Furthermore, several professors mentioned that they signed the petition with other professors around the country in favor of Prop 19.
In fact, it's a great new field to explore that hasn't been developed yet, with major state/federal/federalism issues. The whole debate over MMJ, regulation, and legalization isn't going away. It's only going to get bigger and more important, and there will be landmark cases about things related to it in our careers. It implicates everything from employment law (ie when a CA-resident is fired because of a positive drug test despite being a card-holder... does this not abridge a substantive right as determined by the state of CA?), medical research, patent law for certain strains, etc. etc. Don't you think Montsanto will use legal avenues to protect their "property" if they deem it profitable to start engineering strains just as they do for corn?
IMO the demand for lawyers with expertise in MMJ law will increase over the next 10-20 years. A note like that could be a future career benefit, not a detriment, depending on what field you go into.