You never know, medical marijuana may one day become a reality here in Florida. Of course, that would mean quite a pay cut for criminal defense attorneys like me, but this one time, I’ll bite the bullet because it’s the right thing to do. Possession of marijuana arrests are pretty popular here in Orlando, so the police may have to find something else to do with their time. Somehow, I think they’ll manage, crime incorporated always finds a way to increase their revenues.
If Florida passes a medical marijuana law, our state law will be in direct conflict with Federal law–as Federal law makes it clear that cannabis possession is illegal (except for research purposes). Medical marijuana highlights an interesting issue in Constitutional Law. What are the rights of the states, and what are the rights of the federal government?
We, the People, gave our federal government only “certain” powers, all other powers are retained by the states. However, it seems that our federal government has grabbed more power than originally granted by the states, and a prime example of this is medical marijuana cases.
One conflict is between a state’s power to regulate medicine and the federal government’s power to regulate the interstate distribution of “illegal” drugs. There’s a reason why you don’t see “federally” licensed Doctors–because it’s within the state’s power to license the practice of medicine. Included within that state right to regulate the medical practice, are rights pertaining to what types of treatments may be given to patients. Marijuana as a medicine is a course of treatment legal in many states. Thus, when the federal government comes along and decides that a particular state doctor may not prescribe a drug, that’s a problem. It’s a problem that really hasn’t been resolved.
Our federal government has not decided to change their laws to allow medical marijuana, but rather, the feds have simply decided not to prosecute those patients possessing cannabis pursuant to a valid state prescription. So far, it appears that if you’re complying with state law, the feds won’t prosecute.
Let’s hope Florida one day get’s with the program.