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What Can The Feds REALLY Do To State Marijuana Legalization Efforts?

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federal state marijuana washington colorado fundingFederal Marijuana Laws Trump State Marijuana Laws – So What?

There has been a lot of talk in the media about the marijuana legalization initiatives that passed in Colorado and Washington State and what the federal reaction will be. 99% of the articles always say pretty much the same thing – ‘don’t get ahead of yourselves stoners, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level so this is all moot.’ Am I the only one that reads these articles and gets kind of offended because it seems like the media is in a roundabout way calling marijuana supporters stupid?

Yes, mainstream media, federal marijuana law trumps state marijuana law. However, that’s far from the ‘end all, nail in the coffin’ that mainstream media is playing it out to be. My proof? State medical marijuana laws. State medical marijuana laws have been shot down in federal court, yet medical marijuana has continued to spread across the nation, and existing programs have continued to expand. If mainstream media’s logic of ‘the feds say it is illegal – end of story’ was true, than medical marijuana programs would have been shut down.

The fact of the matter is there are not enough federal agents and resources to go after everyone, which is what it would take to truly shut down the programs. Sure, feds will come in and raid dispensaries and gardens in order to harass program participants, but that will never be enough to stop people all the way. Now take into account the fact that the medical marijuana industry is a dwarf compared to the recreational market. If the feds can’t bust everyone right now, how would they ever be able to do it when the market grows ten fold in Washington State and Colorado?

To me, the feds versus state issue is kind of like the bully that lives far away. Yes, technically the bully can beat you up. But there’s only one of him, and there’s millions of us, so at the end of the day the bully can talk all he wants to but it doesn’t mean a whole lot. The only thing that I have ever seen or heard of that would be truly effective for the federal government would revolve around federal funding.

For those of you that aren’t public policy majors, here’s an example. In the 1970’s during the Middle East oil embargo, President Nixon wanted to conserve fuel in America, so he instituted a 55 mph rule on highways via the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act. Many states resisted and refused to lower their limits, which went as high as 80 mph. Rather than send the feds to stop speeders across the nation, which would have been impossible, President Nixon threatened to withdraw federal transportation funds from the states that refused to follow federal standards.

All good public policy majors that took courses on governmental budgeting will tell you that federal funding to states is significant. To see how much federal funding goes to Colorado click here. In theory, the federal government could threaten to withhold some, if not all of those funds. However, this is just a theory, as public outcry would be quick and swift and would outweigh any benefit that the federal government would get from stopping marijuana legalization efforts at the state level. President Nixon’s strategy worked because at the end of the day, Americans wanted to improve the economy, and lower their reliance on foreign nations. President Nixon’s game of ‘chicken’ worked out in his favor as each resisting state folded due to public pressure.

If President Obama and/or Congress tried the same tactic, it wouldn’t work, because a majority of the American people no longer support marijuana prohibition. I picture government workers, concerned citizens, politicians, business owners, etc. protesting in the streets saying things like, ‘I can not get anything done and live my life all because the White House wants to cling to a policy that is ridiculous at best, harmful at worst.’ At the end of the day, all the White House can do is make mostly empty threats and throw around rhetoric hoping it scares people. There are A LOT of things that states do that conflict with federal law (gay marriage, assisted suicide, etc.), but it doesn’t impede those states from carrying out their own policies. Marijuana legalization is no different in that regard. As more and more states pursue their own marijuana legalization efforts, I predict the rhetoric will stop, and finally, finally, we will get some REAL reform at the federal level.

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  • ASH

    STATES RIGHTS – nuff said… but if you don’t get it… the feds only come in IF you violate STATE & Federal law… so if its legal in the state then they wont fuck with you until you break a federal law.. IE more then 99 plants or something to that effect… dealing etc…

    • Johnny Bloomington

      You can be compliant with state law and still be busted! Just ask Charlie Lynch from CA!

  • RuFknCrzy

    you cant put the smell back after somebody farted.

  • 10th amendment.

  • ken

    yea, what nixon did then was realy just idle threats. The intersate hiway system is part of our national defense system and he couldn’t have stopped funding even if he’d tried. But as usual the public was ignorant of this fact and belived everything he said. The state reps weren’t going to resist him due to possible polictical reprisals.
    So I guess what I’m saying is that the people need to pay attention to the facts and not just believe what the tv is telling them. The same goes with our fight to legalize marijuana. PAY ATTENTION! LEARN THE FACTS. ’cause without knowledge of the truth we don’t stand a chance! It’s not just about getting stoned. it’s about our rights as americans/human beings.

    • Johnny oneye

      well said! thats why the weedblog rules!”
      as Danno would say ‘Just The Facts mam”

      • it was friday that said, “just the facts “. Danno was told to “book’em”

  • Laura

    Historical Federal Law is supposed to be only for interstate disputes and unification during a crisis.The Media lies when it says that the federal gov’t has the upper hand.. we have let them get the upper hand.. As the state legalize Cannabis we will see the federal power mongering diminish!

  • The Devil

    Look up the totem pole. It might interest these activists that really like the idea of smoking weed and getting high to know the Federal government understands that “stealing” illegally grown marijuana and selling it to the public “legally” might end up in a war with the World Drug Trade. The WDT has offered the Whitehouse business strategies to convert the Trade into legal activity. The Trade sees it as thievery and won’t stand by and let cultural disparities and racial discrimination keep them from a large portion of their heritage.

  • “Yes, mainstream media, federal marijuana law trumps state marijuana law. ”

    This is not accurate. Federal laws do not supersede State laws. The courts have routinely ruled that Federal law ONLY supersedes State laws when the acts are in violation of the Interstate Commerce Clause.

    And it would be a hard argument to make that marijuana grown, sold, packaged and consumed in Colorado affected Interstate Commerce of any kind.

    Furthermore, a simple look at history will show that the States have far more power over the Federal Government’s policies than the MSM lets on.

    At one time, alcohol was illegal. In fact, there was a Constitutional amendment made in order to make it illegal. One could easily argue that because of that, alcohol was more illegal then than marijuana is today.

    But what happened? States got tired of it and they quit enforcing the 18th amendment. They basically told the Government to get out of their business and they would run the State the way the people wanted. It only took a few short years of this before the 18th was repealed.

    And what about the blacks? There used to be Federal laws that prevented blacks from owning land, voting, marrying a white person — and many other restrictions.

    When the States quit enforcing the laws, slavery and all the horrible effects from it died off.

    And what about Women’s voting laws? At one time it was illegal for women to vote. What happened? Again, States reversed the laws and allowed women to vote.

    So what does all that mean?

    It means Federal laws do not infact trump State laws.

    If they did… We would still have blacks working in the fields, women stuck in the kitchen and a large white male working force.

    None of those things exist today, because States overruled the Governments authority.

    The 10th Amendment to the Constitution is golden, isn’t it?

    • Johnny oneye

      hey you left out gambling , prostitution -Nevada !

      Alaska has “dry towns” no alcohol states banning fda approved commerce!
      So they ability to enforce laws federally mandated are at the hand of the state

      1 last bit , my title/deed on my house written in 1925 Los Angeles clearly states
      “this property may not be sold , rented to anyone of minority , black,chinese
      not the exact words but the ugly paper reminds us of slavery in the US !
      people/vs FEDS

  • Johnny oneye

    go to youtube , type “how to grow marijuana” 33,000 results!

    google = 23,200,000
    Maybe the FEDS should try google its really helpful!

    I think Marc Emery will contest to WE HAVE OUTGROWN OUR GOVERNMENT!

    1seed at a time!

  • it was gerald ford that set the 55 MPH limit.