States Rights And Marijuana
November 9, 2012 by Sam Rolley
President Barack Obama, former member of the pot-centric group of boys known as the Choom Gang, has admitted to inhaling and has, in fact, built much of his persona around the fact that he was a laid-back Hawaiian kid who liked to smoke it up.
In his 1995 book Dreams of My Father, the President reminisced:
I had discovered that it didn’t make any difference whether you smoked reefer in a white classmate’s sparkling new van, or in the dorm room of some brother you’d met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids… You just might be bored or alone. Everybody was welcome into the club of disaffection.
And if the high didn’t solve whatever it was that was getting you down, it could at least help you laugh at the world’s ongoing folly and see through all the hypocrisy and bullshit and cheap moralism. That’s how it seemed to me then, anyway.
But that didn’t stop the President from allowing his Justice Department to lead massive Federal raids against marijuana dispensaries and licensed growers in California after that State legalized the drug for medical use. One of the President’s 2008 campaign promises to medical marijuana advocates was that he would not assault State’s rights and use Federal “resources to circumvent state laws on this issue.”
Now, with the President re-elected and two State initiatives passed (in Colorado and Washington) that allow for full legalization of the drug, the Obama Justice Department will have to decide whether to crack down and raid in the States or welcome a new era in the Nation. If they decide to do the latter, it could mean an eventual drawdown across the board of the failed War on Drugs.
It’s most likely, however, that the Obama Administration will come down hard on the States to flex Federal power and embolden the drug war with new enemies.
“The Department of Justice’s enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged,” a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Colorado said after the initiatives passed. “We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time.”
Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper opposed legalizing marijuana in his State and, in a statement, warned that the Federal law could hamper the State’s ability to move forward the voters’ will.
“The voters have spoken, and we have to respect their will,” Hickenlooper said. “This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.”
In the coming months, the Federal government’s response to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington will be a telling sign of how willing the Fed is to accept State sovereignty. Chances are that we will be seeing more armed raids than smoking circles.