Right to the pursuit of happiness

Discussion in 'Drug Policy Reform & Narco Politics' started by PunchThomas, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. PunchThomas

    PunchThomas Newbie

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    I feel like I must be completely insane. That or everybody else is.

    In the United States, the Bill of Rights guarantees all citizens the right to the pursuit of happiness. Is that correct?

    Then how can any drug be criminalized, when taking it falls under the pursuit of happiness? To me, this is as clear-cut as can be. Why doesn't the Bill of Rights guarantee US citizens the right to take any drug that genuinely makes them happy? Don't all prohibitionary laws contradict this right?
     
  2. Doctor Who

    Doctor Who Silver Member

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    Your Exactly Correct... the only way they can Legally take away the Right to use drugs is by passing an amendment, like with alcohol prohibition! That is why the First Drug Laws were Phony "Tax Acts" & the lame excuses they are using now are no better!
    the only Problem is... They have the Guns, Goons & Jails to Enforce their Totalitarian decrees, their muddled thinking is as delusional & dangerous as it is pathetic, viz., that by imprisoning and ostracizing enough people, they can stay the tide of history and assure the perpetuation of their quaint and squalid narrow world-view!
    (<
    PEACE!
     
  3. mersann

    mersann Platinum Member

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    By the same kind of reasoning, one could allow killing other people, because it may be really fun for some people and make them really happy -- or less drastically, allow them to rob banks, so they can get really rich and happy that way.

    Sure, you infringe other people's rights with killing them and robbing banks, and that's why you might consider these two things to be extremely different. But if, as the governments' arguments often go, you consider the bad societal effect drugs can and do have (and that's not only because of their being illegal), both arguments are not that different structurally seen.

    "Right to the pursuit of happiness" is an extremely vague expression, most likely intendedly so -- do you have any kind of legal definition/interpretation for what this means? Has any legal definition/interpretation for that ever had effect on court decisions?
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  4. CaptainTripps

    CaptainTripps Law & Policy sections Platinum Member & Advisor

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    No, you are not correct. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is nowhere in the Constitution. It is in the Declaration of Independence. It is a nice sentiment, but has no legal bearing on anything.

    The only two amendments that might be a basis to support the right to use drugs would be the First Amendment and the Ninth Amendment. Under the First Amendment you have the freedom of religion provision, this has to my knowledge only worked for certain Native Americans who have been found to have a Constitutional right to use peyote in their ceremonies, which they were doing for centuries before Columbus arrived in the new world. The Ninth Amendment says that "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people". This means that the rights listed in the Bill of Rights are not the only rights that people have, that simply by listing these, they did not mean to take any rights away. It is from the Ninth Amendment that the "right to privacy" has been inferred. This is the reason that birth control and abortion are legal. Possession of small amounts of marijuana are actually legal in Alaska, under Alaska Supreme Court decisions under their state constitutions right to privacy. This has not been a successful argument under the United States Constitution.

    The Amendment that has caused the biggest headache for the prohibitionists has been the Tenth Amendment. "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 is the so called states rights issue. For the feds to pass laws they need to have Constitutional authority to do so, if not then the power belongs to the states. This is why the national prohibition of alcohol, which did not prohibit simple possession of alcohol, took a Constitutional Amendment. At the time it was almost universally accepted that it was up to the states to decide this sort of thing. When prohibition was repealed, it did not legalize alcohol per se, it simply gave the power back to the states. If a state wanted to outlaw alcohol, they most likely could do it. There are dry counties in the United States. When they wanted to outlaw things like marijuana they decided to use the federal power to raise taxes. However, the idea was not to raise revenue, but to make marijuana prohibitively expensive. Again, it was generally accepted that the feds did not have the power to simply outlaw it. It was not until the late 1930's that the Supreme Court decided that the Commerce Clause could be used to prohibit things. To put it very simply the court held that federal government has the power to make laws regarding anything that effects interstate commerce. It has basically been determined that everything effects interstate commerce. This has been used to uphold everything from Social Security to Civil Rights legislation.

    The argument that "Obamacare" is constitutional is based on the Commerce Clause. Should the court find any part of it is an unconstitutional overreaching by the federal government, it might open the door to more attacks on the federal authority. But even if national drug laws, that did not involve crossing state lines or international borders, where determined to be unconstitutional, that would not invalidate state anti drug laws. Some states might legalize marijuana, but it will be quite sometime before it is likely that other drugs would be legalized.

    The "rights" that Doctor Who is referring to are the rights of the states, not the rights of the individual.

     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
    1. 5/5,
      highly informative contribution on relevant US history and drug policy
      Apr 19, 2012
    2. 5/5,
      awesome read, very informative
      Apr 14, 2012
  5. PunchThomas

    PunchThomas Newbie

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    So, the next question is what can we do to legally pursue the right to happiness? How can we effectively fight for what is right?
     
  6. beentheredonethatagain

    beentheredonethatagain Silver Member

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    we live in a Republic not a Democracy, this is how and why killing for sport would never be allowed even if the majority voted for it. for example..

    A Republic gives government the power to protect us from ourselves.

    With that said, we can only make empowering arguments and present it in a manner that our fellow citizens would not just support , but to get the non-drug population to make a stand for those citizens' right to use a mind altering substances.

    We need to look at alcohol prohibition, on how the anti liquor people were able to sway the population to ban alcoholic beverages, and then how the drinkers were able to per-sway the non drinkers to vote for ending the prohibition.

    because those of us who are in favor of legalizing mind altering substances are not a large section of the populace, and we are not a vocal group , due to not wanting to loose respect and other fears of standing up as pro drug.

    the stigmatic view of drug use is equal to junkie on a corner. until we break from the fear of losing face and at the risk of being terminated from our jobs , we will never get far with just a few long haired , bong smoking, van driving, hippies.
    I just used those adjectives as stereo typical views from the outsiders.

    So we must unite to win the fight. the same as medical patients did in 1996 here in California , State Bill 420 , the compassionate use act. Allowing patients immunity from prosecution for marijuana use , possession and cultivation.