Las Vegas, NV (TFC) – James Parsons, 39, of Las Vegas, is suing the State of Nevada. Parsons, who represents himself without a lawyer, now challenges the state’s medical cannabis laws. His lawsuit, filed July 14, 2015, alleges three civil rights violations — all arising from Nevada’s medical cannabis ID-Card program.
Parsons says, “I have no problem with getting a doctor’s note because , after all, marijuana is medicine in Nevada.” Or is it?–that’s the issue! Parsons’ specific complaints are about the medical cannabis registration process, which he believes violates three of his constitutional rights: (i) the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination; (ii) the constitutional right to privacy; and (iii) the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear firearms. Let’s examine the issues.
The Fifth Amendment Argument —
Parsons argues that the registration process is unconstitutional because he must incriminate himself to get the ID-Card. He argues that, because patients must disclose the fact of cannabis use to the State of Nevada, patients automatically incriminate themselves in the eyes of the federal government — who don’t believe in medical marijuana — and who always have access to Nevada’s medical marijuana database!
Remember, the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution says that federal law trumps state law, i.e., federal drug laws are paramount to Nevada’s medical cannabis laws. And so, despite Nevada’s acceptance of cannabis as medicine, cannabis remains contraband under federal law — which classifies cannabis alongside heroin, cocaine and LSD (which is ridiculous). Even though Nevada patients obey all state cannabis laws, those patients forever remain vulnerable to arrest by federal authorities — and this fact never goes away.
Totally unique in history, marijuana creates a constitutional disaster that pits two sovereigns against one another — the State says, “It’s medicine,” but the Feds say, “It’s contraband.” Never before in legal history has there been anything so absurd — conflicting laws! Charles Dickens said, “The law is an ass.” Yes, and here, we have two asses, and to make matters worse, they run in opposite directions! Most telling, this conflict of marijuana laws — state versus federal — is the ultimate example of two-faced, hypocritical, idiocracy in government.
Back in 2002, after honorable discharge from the United States Marine Crops, (“OOH-rah!”), Parsons settled in Las Vegas where he was a law-abiding, prosperous, cannabis entrepreneur. Then one fateful September morning in 2010, a federal swat team raided his home and business. Notably, the IRS, FBI and DEA agents who raided Parsons’ home were accompanied by Las Vegas’ finest, the Metropolitan Police Dept.
Obviously, the info keepers in Carson City’s medical marijuana program had given Parsons’ private info — i.e., the fact of marijuana use, plus his home and business address — to the joint task force, (fed + state), who used the state’s medical marijuana database as “probable cause” to obtain and execute a search warrant at Parsons’ home and business.
Notably, the district attorney never charged Parsons with a crime, nor did the U.S. Attorney, Eric Holder. They never charged Parsons because, of course, he broke no laws. “I was a law-abiding business man,” claims Parsons. The feds could have charged him, but didn’t, presumably because no Nevada jury would convict. Regardless, the feds hijacked and kept Parsons’ personal property, equipment, computers and cash.
Parsons states, “The fact of registration in the state medical cannabis program, all by itself, will incriminate you.” And when Parsons tells you that participation in Nevada’s medical cannabis program will “incriminate” you — he ain’t kiddin’ because he lived it! Indeed, all Nevada medical cannabis users have incriminated themselves at the federal level — simply because cannabis remains contraband under federal law.
Dr. Timothy Leary —
Parsons is confident in his 5th Amendment argument, and historically, legal precedence supports him. The essential facts of Parsons vs. Nevada have already been before the U.S. Supreme Court. Back in 1969, drug guru Dr. Timothy Leary successfully made the same 5th Amendment argument in D.C. that Parsons now makes in Vegas.
A professor and ’60s hippie activist, Dr. Timothy Leary was convicted for pot possession in violation of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. On appeal, Leary successfully challenged this Act of Congress, arguing that it violated his right 5th Amendment right to not incriminate himself, and the Supreme Court “unanimously” agreed with Leary, (which is remarkable).
Under the 1937 law, cannabis users had to participate in a bogus stamp program similar to Nevada’s ID-Card program, which then as now, exposes cannabis users to what the Supreme Court calls “real and appreciable” risk of self-incrimination. Using legal analysis from Leary’s case, Parsons’ argument has merit — i.e., his participation in Nevada’s medical cannabis program exposes him to “real and appreciable” risk of self-incrimination, and which actually brought the long arm of the law thundering down on Parsons’ front-door.
Back in 2010, based on information obtained from Nevada’s medical cannabis database, the IRS, FBI, DEA and Las Vegas Metro acquired a search warrant, then promptly kicked down Parsons’ front-door — Baghdad style — and Parsons found himself with assault rifles pointed at his chest and plastic handcuffs on his wrists. This raid was a direct result of Parsons’ lawful participation in Nevada’s medical cannabis program.
Take it from Parsons, if you participate in Nevada’s medical cannabis program — you incriminate yourself. “One day,” says Parsons, “federal law will accept cannabis as medicine, but until then, all law-abiding patients are subject to DEA raids!”
Right to Privacy Argument —
Parsons argues that Nevada’s medical cannabis program fails to adequately safeguard his private medical info and also that the State of Nevada wrongfully discloses his private medical info to third parties. “Back in 2000,” says Parsons, “Nevada voters declared that cannabis is medicine, therefore, Nevada must treat cannabis just like it treats other medicines.”
The Second Amendment Argument —
Parsons argues that state cannabis laws infringe on his right to keep and bear firearms. A former Marine sharpshooter, Parsons is quite capable with firearms — and he believes he should not be required to forfeit his 2nd Amendment rights in order to access his medicine. Parsons believes it’s wrong to force patients to choose between two fundamental rights — the right to keep and bear firearms versus the right to use doctor-recommended medicine — especially when the Constitution equally protects both.
The State’s Legal Position —
Nevada Attorney General, Adam Laxalt, disagrees with Parsons. According to Laxalt’s office, Nevada medical cannabis laws are merely an “exemption from prosecution.” Laxalt’s office claims that Nevada’s medical cannabis program is only for those folks who wish to use cannabis, but don’t wish to be arrested. (Really? Don’t we all wish to use medicine without fear of arrest?)
Constitutional Right to Your Medicine?
It appears the Million Dollar Question is this — back in 2000, when Nevada voters enacted medical cannabis laws — did voters declare (a) that the cannabis program is merely an “exemption from prosecution” under state criminal laws?–or, (b) that participation in the program is a constitutional right under the Nevada State Constitution?
Enacted by Nevada voters in 2000, Question 9, by its own terms, amends the Nevada State Constitution to allow cannabis use for medical purposes. When it became law on Oct. 1, 2001, the language of Question 9 morphed into Article 4, Section 38 of the Nevada State Constitution.
Nevada Constitution, Art. 4, Sec. 38, reveals no support for the State’s argument and nothing about “exemption from prosecution.” On the contrary, Art. 4, Sec. 38, wholeheartedly supports Parsons — by declaring cannabis is “medicine,” which means Nevada should treat it like “medicine.” Parsons makes the winning argument.
Support Parsons vs. Nevada
Parsons’ case will be heard in a downtown Las Vegas courtroom at 1 p.m. on Oct. 1, 2015, (ironically, the 14-year anniversary of the law’s enactment). On that date, the judge will hopefully require Nevada to start treating cannabis in a manner consistent with the will of Nevada voters –because the black-letter language of the Nevada Constitution so requires!
When all is said, Parsons’ legal arguments are brilliant. “I wanna change Nevada law in order to bring a vibrant cannabis industry to Las Vegas, which if properly run, will flourish, and turn Vegas into a world-class cannabis destination.” Parsons is an innovative cannabis entrepreneur, or “canna-preneur,” if you like. “Now is the time for change,” says Parsons. “I have innovative platforms that I develop specifically for the Nevada marketplace, so contact me at growpHicial@gmail.com.”
Support Parsons vs. Nevada at his Go Fund Me page: http://www.gofundme.com/ProsecuteNevada
(About the author: T. Matthew Phillips, a lawyer from Los Angeles, Calif., is a free-lance writer and member of the Las Vegas Blues Society. He is not directly connected to this case.)