Legal Question in Constitutional Law in Ohio

Pursuit of Happiness

I have done some research, looking at prior rulings on this. I was wondering if you could build a case for legalizing marijuana on the basis that it is a violation of our constitutional right to pursuit of happiness. The only argument against it would be it's safety, but seeing as there are 60 chemicals, besides THC, in marijuana that have medicinal properties. Where alcohol and tobacco have none, and yet they are legal. Would just like some thoughts on this.

Asked on 7/08/09, 1:05 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Re: Pursuit of Happiness

The Constitution doesn't say anything about a right to the pursuit of happiness. That language is in the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration has no legal significance, though of course its historical significance is vast.

Since the language you cite isn't in the Constitution, it doesn't give you any constitutional rights. But even if it was, the right thereby created would have to be limited in scope. Some people are made happy by committing murder. Others find happiness in setting fires. That something makes you happy is not reason enough to prevent the government from outlawing it.

Your general point seems to be that there should be no victimless crimes. That's a reasonable position, but it's not one our society is ready to adopt. It also isn't one that finds any support in the Constitution.

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Answered on 7/09/09, 2:08 am

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