Medical Marijuana a States Rights Issue

Just after completing the “How “Medical Marijuana” Scams Pot Users” blog, I scanned the Denver Post and found an article about the clash between states with medical marijuana laws and federal law, which criminalizes marijuana. As mentioned in the previous blog, this puts registered users at considerable risk. Perhaps greater risk than if they continued to use black market pot, instead of coming in from the cold.

It’s not to difficult to find articles about “medical marijuana” or just “marijuana” in The Denver Post. Search for it, and you’ll come up with an average of two articles a day. That’s nearly twice the number of articles found in the New York Times, with its national scope. The more local New York Post ran only one story in the past week where marijuana was the main topic. But, The Star Ledger in New Jersey, where marijuana possession is even more rigorously prosecuted than in New York, averaged over two stories daily in which marijuana played a prominent role over the past week.

Meanwhile, the states rights issue is the elephant in the room when it comes to medical marijuana and the conflict between state and federal law.

Ever since the 16th Amendment to the constitution was floated, allowing for the establishment of the IRS, discontent has festered in some corners of the Union. Wikipedia lists Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Utah as states that rejected that amendment and never ratified it. Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia never even considered the amendment. By accounts other than Wikipedia, there were other states that did not ratify the amendment either.

The issue has not gone away, and continues to be at the top of states rights issues. In 2009, Texas Gov. Rick Perry told and anti-tax rally crowd at Austin City Hall that “…the federal government is strangling Americans with taxation, spending, and debit”. He was met with shouts of “Secede!” Texans have other beefs with the feds that have elevated the prospect of secession, as well.

Similar rumblings have been heard in many corners of the United States, and some say that there is a quiet agreement among a dozen or more states that formal moves to secession will be made should states rights face further erosion at the hands of the feds. Meanwhile, it is generally felt by many that the federal government has destroyed the 10th Amendment, which says that “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.”

All of this seems to underlay the uneasy truce between the feds and the states when it comes to prosecution of marijuana users in states with medical marijuana, or liberal marijuana laws. The Denver Post article concluded with a statement from Robert Mikos, a Vanderbilt University law professor who studies the intersection of medical-marijuana and federal power:  “To some extent, the Department of Justice is simply trying to draw a line in the sand.” — they’re not trying too hard though, probably because no one wants to force the states rights issue to the point where desires for secession in many states come to the surface. It’s something that wouldn’t benefit either states or feds… at this particular moment. And that could change at any time.



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    After I read this article, I had to stop and smoke a joint. When is this govenment going to get it? This is supposed to be a democracy, and washington is not listening. Even to the point where states rights are an issue? I am surprised they don’t see themselves in the arab spring. but like so many other power drunk control freaks, they don’t understand how the occupy [your home town here] movement is about removing them from power and returning power to the people. right on!

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  • Armin Amir

    That’s really interesting. Thanks for posting all the great information! Had never thought of it all that way before. Many posts on this subject, but you definitely provided a new angle and food for thought. Will it ever be truly legal I wonder?