Drug Abuse Essay
The problem of drug abuse on the example of the case known as “United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative”.
Why has drug abuse become such a tremendous problem nowadays? How does the law restrict the drug abuse issue? What legal act does prohibit narcotics in the United States of America?
Drugs may destroy the life of a person, therefore while fighting with drug dealers and buyers cooperatives no other interest rather than removing this “elements” from the society should be taken into account.
Drug Abuse Essay
Table of contents:
2. Main point of the case
a. The main argument of USA suing the Cooperative
3. The Court’s decision
4. Various aspects of the case
Introduction: Drug abuse has always been a very delicate question as it always it deals with the health, well-being and even lives of human beings belonging to any country. The position of the United States of America towards drugs has always been very clear and distinctively negative. Throughout the history of the country there were numerous cases against drug dealers, buyers and many more. These cases did always catch the attention of civil people who by showing interest in such cases revealed their worries about the future of their own children that one-day might face this problem, too. As time goes by it get even more clear that people need to feel protection from the side of law-enforcement establishments such as police. Drugs may destroy the life of a person, therefore while fighting with drug dealers and buyers cooperatives no other interest rather than removing this “elements” from the society should be taken into account. The case, which is known as “United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative” did more than just catch the attention of people. Million of people followed the case from its very beginning and did have certain expectations concerning the outcome of the case. The specifics of the case made people have twofold points of view when analyzing the solution that was delivered by Justice Clarence Thomas concerning the case. Nevertheless, to understand the solution it is necessary to examine the case deeper and only then decide whether the Court’s decision is really twofold, ambiguous or completely justified.
2. Main points of the case. Summarizing the main point in the opinion of the case it is necessary to start from its very beginning. The case was argued on the 28th of March 2001 and the decision was delivered on the 14th of May 2001. It was argued intensively and both of the sides were acted rather confident. The Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative with Jeffrey Jones as a head started its life according to California’s Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and was started to follow medical purposes of distributing marijuana to people that in accordance with their state of health qualify for it as a treatment. This organization spent two years distributing marijuana to “qualified patients” until the year of 1998, when it was sued by USA. The main point of the argument was that USA’s government charge of Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative breach of the Controlled Substances Act’s and mainly its “embargo” for distributing, manufacturing, and possessing of the substance, as far as marijuana is listed in the Controlled Substances Act. The activity of the Cooperative continued in spite of the District’s Court decision and its activity was very intense. The key issue presented by the Cooperative was its medical necessity defense, other words they stated that all the marijuana that was distributed by means of their organization was only distributed according to the medical necessity of this substance by qualified patients. As it has been already mentioned the District Court made an injunction concerning the activity of the organization and the following consideration of the case lead to the Court of Appeal. According to the Court of Appeal all the “medically necessary distributions were to be permitted”. So the reason the United Stated of America charged the organization is for the violation of the policy concerning the distribution and manufacturing of the substance. On the other side the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative cited the medical necessity defense which was approved the Court of Appeal and lately made the District Court change its injunction concerning the activity of the cooperative.
2a. The main argument of USA suing the Cooperative. The United States of America on its side presented a tremendously weighty argument that deals with the law of the country in the first place. The mentioned above Controlled Substances Act is a certain prohibition concerning narcotics, which has been made by experts and considered to be a law. Ordinarily, there is no exception from the law that already exists; it is similar to the situation when the fact of not knowing a certain law does not release from the responsibility for its violation. The argument of the case was related to the possibility to make an exception concerning the Controlled Substances Act prohibitions. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative implied that marijuana is medically necessary for a definite group of people and the USA’s government considered this to be a violation the Controlled Substances Act. The “degree” of marijuana’s necessity in medical purposes was point that caused the majority of the questions throughout the case. The Court was supposed to “solve the problem” and announce its verdict.
3. The Court’s decision. "The statute reflects a determination that marijuana has no medical benefits worthy of an exception; medical necessity is not a defense to manufacturing and distributing marijuana," – these words of Justice Clarence Thomas clearly reveal the decision of the Court. The “degree” of medical necessity of marijuana was decided not to be enough to make an exception in the Controlled Substances Act and therefore sell it to people, who may medically require it. Manufacturing of marijuana as a fact in the activity of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative and therefore its possibility to distribute marijuana to the citizens of the country was concluded to be weightier than marijuana’s medical treatment characteristics. Therefore the Court confirmed USA’s position of the impossibility to make violate the prohibitions of the Controlled Substances Act. The opinion of the Court basically reflected the next – no distribution should be justified even by medical necessity and no defense should be given to such distributors. The possibility to make an exception was reviewed in four medical cases: "The foregoing injunction does not apply to the distribution of cannabis by the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative and Jeffrey Jones to patient-members who (1) suffer from a serious medical condition, (2) will suffer imminent harm if the patient-member does not have access to cannabis, (3) need cannabis for the treatment of the patient-member's medical condition, or need cannabis to alleviate the medical condition or symptoms associated with the medical condition, and (4) have no reasonable legal alternative to cannabis for the effective treatment or alleviation of the patient-member's medical condition or symptoms associated with the medical condition because the patient-member has tried all other legal alternatives to cannabis and the alternatives have been ineffective in treating or alleviating the patient-member's medical condition or symptoms associated with the medical condition, or the alternatives result in side effects which the patient-member cannot reasonably tolerate." This “critical exception” by itself caused a lot of arguments and undermined the steadfastness of the Controlled Substances Act. Nevertheless, the decision of the case remained unflinching and by this produced a lot of opposition.
4. Various aspects of the case. The decision of the court is obviously twofold and makes every person think deeply before expression any kind of opinions. People who really do suffer from hard diseases and may require marijuana might experience certain difficulties and probable complications in their health state. Therefore hospitals, which previously primarily had to deal with people belonging to this group, find themselves in the situation of inability to help their patients. They need to find more high-priced medicaments for the patient’s treatment, which may hit hard the budget of the hospital and of the patient. This definite case is very complicated due to its connection to the most valuable thing – the life and health of a human being. This ambiguous case may require new statutes or constitutional amendments, due to the statutory ambiguity according to the opinion of some people. Nevertheless, this ambiguity is rather questionable and the Controlled Substances Act points it rather clearly. It seems that it is better to find a medical substitute of marijuana, which is easier to do nowadays when medicine keeps providing new innovative medicaments, than it was for instance, 30 years ago. And maybe this is one of the primary reasons the Controlled Substance Act becomes so restrictive. It is obvious that it was designed in order to protect the health of the citizens of the country from drug-dependence and therefore any statement claiming that it will kill people has no base under itself. It was a case of health v. health, and the only difference was that the Controlled Substance Act protected million of potential dope fiends and the cooperative defended a certain group of people who may find an alternative medical treatment. So, the Court’s decision remains the same: “…there is no medical necessity exception to the prohibitions at issue, even when the patient is "seriously ill" and lacks alternative avenues for relief”.
Conclusion. Is marijuana that advisable after all? This was the main question that the Court answered by its decision. It is obvious that this case did touch certain moral issues, as the case was about the health of human beings. Analyzing the destructive influence of marijuana in general it is necessary to remember that marijuana does more harm than it does good. Therefore, would not it be the main question to stop the outcry against the policy. A narcotic will always remain a narcotic; even the famous genius Sigmund Fried went through this trying to treat people. Why should we do it? Let us put the health of the nation ahead of everything.
1. United States Supreme Court multimedia
2. Herman, Caroline “United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative: whatever happened to federalism?”(Supreme Court Review)/Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology / Northwestern University, School of Law/2002.
3. Liddick, Donald “The Global Underworld: Transnational Crime and the United States” (International and Comparative Criminology)/ Praeger Publishers/2004.
4. Drug Regulation - Marijuana
5. Text of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Decision