- - Monday, September 25, 2017

Federalism is a simple concept: The states, not the federal government, should control most issues.

Unfortunately, America has long since abandoned most forms of Federalism.  Most laws and policies in this nation come from Washington.  But there is a fight over Federalism coming over, of all things, marijuana.

In the past, the only people on the right side of the political spectrum who spoke favorably about marijuana were Libertarians, creating the lasting impression the only issue they were really interested in was getting stoned.  But there is a much deeper issue that should interest all conservatives.

That idea is Federalism.

Twenty-six states have passed statutes that legalize marijuana to some extent.  Some have legalized it for recreational use. Others have only legalized it for medical purposes.  Yet, marijuana possession remains a crime on the federal books.  One of the dirty secrets of the law is that every state makes it illegal to sell, deliver, possess with the intent to sell or deliver or manufacture controlled substances.  So, does the Federal government.

Why?

Since 2014, the Department of Justice has been prevented from prosecuting medical marijuana businesses, thanks to amendments offered by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California.  Unfortunately, this year, allegedly conservative Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to Congress demanding that the Rohrabacher amendment not be included in this year’s budget.

In early September, the House leadership blocked a vote that would have allowed Mr. Rohrabacher’s amendment to be included in legislation.  As of now, the almost three-year prohibition against the federal government prosecuting medical marijuana businesses in states that have legalized it, will soon come to an end.

For Republicans who talk about small government, Federalism and draining the swamp, this is pretty much the height of hypocrisy. 

For anyone with three functioning brain cells, it is obvious the recreational use of marijuana is not a good thing.  Marijuana may or may not have positive medicinal effects and that is between a doctor and patient.  But just because something is a bad idea, doesn’t mean the federal government should make it illegal.  The genius of federalism is that those closest to the people, namely the state governments, should be the ones to make that decision.

Few Republicans are hard core supporters of marijuana.  But the issue here is not marijuana. The issue is Federalism and an ever-growing federal government that is out of control.  The issue of marijuana is not simply an issue for left over long-haired hippies to opine about as they listen to aging bootleg copies of concerts from the Grateful Dead.

While many Republican support strong law and order platforms, the irony here is that marijuana may be the tool needed to help roll back the rising tide of Washington’s power.  While he was a candidate, President Trump said he would allow states to decide if they wanted to legalize marijuana or not.

This is where it should be left.

The battle Mr. Rohrabacher is fighting is a good start on the road to Federalism. Neither marijuana nor for that matter any other controlled substance is mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. These are decisions that should be left to the states.

Every conservative should tell their senators and congressmen to support Mr. Rohrabacher and leave decisions about marijuana to the states.

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