It’s Time to End the Federal War on Marijuana [Lew Rockwell]

By Laurence M. Vance

August 11, 2022

The three Republican candidates for governor in Wisconsin were united on one thing: marijuana is bad and should be illegal.

During a candidate forum in Green Bay, Tim Ramthun cited “connections in Colorado” who relayed concerns to him about “all new problems” in the state after marijuana use was legalized. “For me, it’s going to make matters worse and I don’t want to see it in our state,” he said.

Rebecca Kleefisch, at the same forum, deferred to law enforcement officers: “I listen to cops. We know that marijuana is a gateway drug because this is what law enforcement says. We need to stop it where it starts.”

Tim Michels, in a radio interview, said that he opposes legalization: “I do not support the legalization of marijuana, I think it’s all a slippery slope. I really do.”

(Funny that the five of the eight Republicans who vied for the lieutenant governor position expressed support for the legalization of medical marijuana.)

Possessing or distributing any amount of marijuana is illegal in Wisconsin, just as it is on the federal level.

Yet, beginning with California in 1996, the medical use of marijuana has been legalized in thirty-seven states and in the U.S. territories of the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. It is inevitable that the medical use of marijuana will eventually be legal in all 50 states.

Even more important, though, is the recreational use of marijuana.

Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012. They were followed by Alaska and Oregon in 2014; California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts in November 2016; Michigan in 2018; Vermont in 2018; Illinois in 2019; Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey in 2020; Connecticut, New Mexico, New York, and Virginia in 2021; and Rhode Island in 2022. (South Dakota voters approved a recreational marijuana initiative in the 2020 election, but it was overturned by the judiciary.) The recreational use of marijuana is also legal in the U.S. territories of the District of Columbia (2015), the Northern Mariana Islands (2018), and Guam (2019). Although the first few states that legalized marijuana did so via ballot initiatives, the last few did so via legislative action.

And speaking of ballot initiatives, the states of Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota have ballot initiatives this year that relate to either the medical or recreational use of marijuana. Mississippi and Ohio already have marijuana initiatives on the ballot for next year.

But even as more and more states legalize the medical and recreational use of marijuana, the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) with “a high potential for abuse,” “no currently accepted medical use,” and “a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision.” Under federal law, the possession of even a small amount of marijuana can result in fines and imprisonment. The Supreme Court, in the case of Gonzales v. Raich (2005), has ruled that the federal government has the authority to prohibit marijuana possession and use for any and all purposes.

It’s time to end the federal war on marijuana.

The Constitution nowhere gives the federal government the authority to prohibit, restrict, or regulate the buying, selling, growing, or use of marijuana for medical or recreational use.

It really is that simple.

The federal war on marijuana is a war on not only the Constitution, but on personal freedom, private property, limited government, personal responsibility, individual liberty, personal and financial privacy, civil liberties, the free market, and freedom itself.

The solution is a simple one. In a word: federalism.

As James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite.” This is why when the Progressives wanted the federal government to ban alcohol, they first had to get the Constitution amended.

And who are the greatest supporters of the federal war on marijuana? In a word: conservatives. You know, the ones who believe in federalism except when they don’t.

But conservatives can’t have it both ways. They are all for federalism when it comes to abortion—as we saw by their reaction to the recent Supreme Court decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—but throw federalism under the bus when it comes to marijuana.

No one should ever under any circumstances be locked in a cage merely for possessing a plant the government doesn’t approve of. Such is the mark of a tyrannical society, not a free society. Think about that the next time you hear Americans sing that they live in the “land of the free” or that they are proud to be an American because “at least I know I’m free.”

Reprinted with permission. See original article.