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Legal Pot Creates Quandary For State Agencies Addicted To Federal Money

February 26, 2013 by  

Legal Pot Creates Quandary For State Agencies Addicted To Federal Money
PHOTOS.COM

In light of its ongoing status as a Drug Enforcement Administration Schedule 1 controlled substance, the decriminalizing and legalization of recreational marijuana is creating some secondary complications in States where voters have recently approved the change.

In Washington and Colorado, State-funded agricultural extension services have had to turn away amateur marijuana gardeners interested in getting some expert tips to help them grow their crops.

That’s because there’s Federal money on the line for the public universities that deploy the cooperative extension programs in the States. Federal student aid, research appropriations and technological initiatives, among other programs, all rely predominantly on the reliable flow of U.S. taxpayer money that emanates with regularity from Congress.

And so long as consuming, possessing, growing or transacting marijuana is against Federal law, State universities have a lot to lose if they elect to tell residents how to grow it — no matter how benign the circumstances.

Just as conservative States have claimed sovereignty over the regulation of healthcare, Western States struggling to protect their pot legislation from the Feds are in for a rough trip.

Recreational weed growing remains illegal in Washington but is legal in Colorado (just don’t grow more than six plants at a time). But both States face the same uncertain future when it comes to long-term marijuana law. Court challenges and shifting U.S. drug policy have a tendency to discourage States from expanding sanctioned services even tangentially related to pot.

Until Congress takes the target off marijuana at the Federal level, no State that receives Federal carrot-and-stick contingency funding is likely to cultivate a robust support infrastructure for marijuana growers — not even gardeners and hobbyists. County extension services that provide local farmers and gardeners with research, documentation and instruction on raising other crops and specialty plants simply can’t afford to risk losing the Federal dollars their agencies have become addicted to.

Marijuana policy reform group NORML compares the contemporary Federal policy on pot to Prohibition, noting the absurdity, in both cases, of enjoining States to enforce laws that had no popular support and of vastly insufficient Federal funding. Responding last year to the Colorado and Washington referenda, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano noted:

Like alcohol prohibition before it, marijuana prohibition is a failed federal policy that delegates the burden of enforcement to the state and local police. Alcohol prohibition fell when a sufficient number of states enacted legislation repealing the state’s alcohol prohibition laws. With state police and prosecutors no longer engaging in the federal government’s bidding to enforce an unpopular law, the federal government had little choice but to abandon the policy altogether. Today, history begins to repeat itself.

A bill before Congress, HR 499, would end the Federal prohibition on marijuana and leave the matter for each State to decide. The passing of such a bill wouldn’t exactly be a victory for States’ rights advocates — we went through this charade in the 1920s with the Volstead Act — but it could perhaps serve as a starting point for States whose leaders are eager to recover some of the sovereignty eroded by Federal aggression (and, in recent decades, State leaders’ own lazy deference).

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • Robert Smith

    There are other examples of State’s rights besides pot. Same sex merrage is being decided on a state level. Abortion was decided on a state levl before Roe v. Wade, Many gun issues are not only on a state level but a local level.

    Rob

    • Vicki

      Robert Smith says:
      “There are other examples of State’s rights besides pot.”

      States have NO rights. States (being government) have ONLY powers. See Amendment 10 US Constitution.

      People have RIGHTS and POWERS. See Amendment 9

      The Constitution is a contract between the PEOPLE and government whereby we, the people, delegate a FEW powers to the federal government and list a set of powers that we specifically forbid ourselves from delegating to the federal or state government. See Bill of Rights. See also article 1 section 10 (limits on state powers)

      - Robert Smith: “Same sex merrage is being decided on a state level.”

      Marrage is a religious institution and thus is between the people getting married and THEIR God. It has no place in government at any level.

      - Robert Smith: “Abortion was decided on a state levl before Roe v. Wade”

      As well it should. All murder law is state by state. There is nowhere in the enumerated powers that we gave the federal government the power to make laws about murder. See Constitution enumerated powers

      - Robert Smith: “Many gun issues are not only on a state level but a local level.”

      The Constitutional contract SPECIFICALLY states that the RIGHT of THE PEOPLE to KEEP and BEAR ARMS shall NOT be INFRINGED.

      We specifically denied to all government the power to infringe on our right to keep (possess) and bear (carry) arms. Now if we mis-use the tool, like by killing someone, we DID provide due process (see 4-6 Bill of Rights) to suspend their liberty (put them in jail) for a time.

  • gaaak

    I fail to see the problem here. The State ag programs need not be involved in teaching folks how to grow cannabis. There are plenty of expierienced growers out there who could provide instruction, and probably do a better job than any government-funded entity.

    • Vigilant

      Correctamundo. One wonders if the growers are so spaced out that they’ve never heard of the internet, or forgot how to read and won’t attend a local library. It’s all there for the taking.

      • Bruce

        get real pot users are all around you. They are your doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, truck drivers, teachers, cops, lawyers, judges, soldiers, mom’s and dad’s, and that person you just met. There are more people who have at one time or another smoked pot, than those that have not. And most of those people now know that they were lied to about pot. So they no longer trust what the government says to them. They have been lied to so much they know when the Gov speaks it is lying. Simple as that. Our elected anointed ones do not follow the law why should anyone follow the law? Is it time for sensible laws? Why is the punishment for one seed more than the punishment for murder? really explain that one!!!. O FEELINGS got involved in law making and crowded out rational thinking as the prime motivator in gov. Look what happened next!. The nanny state, women in control. You must wear a helmet to go walk on the sidewalk so you won’t hurt your head if you fall. Is there ever going to be a end to this and a return to rational thought? I did not think so. Speed up the end, I am tired of waiting.

      • Vigilant

        Yes, Bruce, “they are your doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, truck drivers, teachers, cops, lawyers, judges, soldiers, mom’s [sic] and dad’s [sic], and that person you just met”…many of whom are apparently so ill-versed on readily available sources of information as to the mechanics of pot growing that they feel compelled to go to a government agency to learn.

        Next time, read my comments with comprehension instead of assuming things about me that are unfounded. You might try schooling yourself in tongue-in-cheek journalism as well.

  • Vigilant

    Mr. Bullard says, “Federal student aid, research appropriations and technological initiatives, among other programs, all rely predominantly on the reliable flow of U.S. taxpayer money that emanates with regularity from Congress.”

    THAT has been the key to most of the problems of federal encroachment of state sovereignty for over a half century. The cavalier disregard for state’s rights, properly seen, is the result of the greed of the people and the states IN COLLUSION WITH the federal government.

    The feds discovered early on (especially after the 17th Amendment) that they could wield a great deal of power by imposing income taxes far in excess of the needs of government, then choosing the winners and losers in the wealth redistribution game.

    Such collusion, over time, has allowed the feds, de facto, to exceed the intent, if not the letter, of the enumerated powers granted it by the Constitution. In a nefarious back door manner, the dependencies created by federal grants in education and social welfare sidestepped the Constitutional prohibition of the federal government to engage in the internal affairs of the states.

    Local school budgets, state budgets, and the budgets of numerous universities have been held hostage to their dependency upon federal monies. In almost every case, these state and local authorities could have rejected (and still can reject) these funds, which always have strings attached.

    The “guidelines” that accompany these grants (affirmative action, No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top, school cafeteria standards, etc.) are often characterized as “mandates.” They are not. Such unconstitutional coercion could be wiped out in a heartbeat if states would simply say “no” to the funds. When’s the last time you heard of a state rejecting these monies?

  • Grandpa frog

    Let’s see, now. Washington and Colorado constitute about 4 percent of the USA. So let the sequester cut out the ATF pot agents in these states. About right.

    Seeing that Congress is considering legalizing (and taxing) pot, cut out all pot ATF agents in all 50 states. That should take care of any ATF budget problems. And help decrease budgets for prison, etc.

    (But I forgot, that when the 21st Amendment was passed, the alcohol agents were simply reassigned to drugs, tobacco and firearms enforcement.)

    In fact, for the rest of the Federal spending, just tell the rest to cut their spending by 2 percent. Retirements should take care of that much.

  • ibcamn

    Don’t worry about all this,…Obama and his henchmen will all be there shortly to haul you all of the housgow anyways!!..and then they’ll fight it and it will generate money that way for the gov’t!..look out pot lovers!..HR 499 is not in his sites,money and control is!!

    • eddie47d

      That may be true but it has always been the Conservatives who quash the legalization of drugs and encourage the War on Drugs. There is no way marijuana should be a Substance I drug yet who keeps it there? Some of you say Obama smoked a doobie or two at least in his past so why would he lead the change to keep those draconian laws in place. Voters in Colorado mainly voted yes because Marijuana is relatively harmless. Much safer than many prescription drugs peddled by Big Pharma. The tax revenue was not the major reason but it does have to be addressed.

    • Average Joe

      eddie,

      “That may be true but it has always been the Conservatives who quash the legalization of drugs and encourage the War on Drugs.”

      Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.
      Robert A. Heinlein

      “There is no way marijuana should be a Substance I drug yet who keeps it there? ”

      People who wish to control others…period.

      “Some of you say Obama smoked a doobie or two at least in his past so why would he lead the change (sic) to keep those draconian laws in place.”

      Maybe you should ask Obama that question…we aren’t mind readers…of course it could have something to do with…controlling people…..

      It all breaks down to… CONTROL…. of people…..

      AJ

  • enslavedcitizen

    Look how the Fed’s rushed in to protect citizens rights, from all those extra drug laws some state enacted. I’m wrong it’s only law breaking (illegal aliens) that matter, we’ll sue you Arizona . Both parties are only care about control over you, that’s the only thing they can agree on!

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