Friday, September 24, 2010

Constitutional Showdown?

We can argue whether or not Congress has the authority under the Constitution to regulate marijuana, but since no court in the land has ruled against Congress in this arena, I accept that for the time being, Congress has the authority to regulate marijuana.

I also accept without argument the primacy of federal law over state law; when the two conflict, the state law yields.

Having established that baseline, what am I to think of Proposition 19?

Proposition 19
Initiative Statute
1377. (09-0024. Amdt. #1S) - Final Random Sample Update - 03/24/10

Changes California Law to Legalize Marijuana and Allow It to Be Regulated and Taxed.

Qualified: 03/24/10

Proponents: Richard Seib Lee and Jeffrey Wayne Jones (510) 208-4554

Allows people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Permits local governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana to people 21 years old or older. Prohibits people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using it in public, smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years old. Maintains current prohibitions against driving while impaired. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Savings of up to several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders. Unknown but potentially major tax, fee, and benefit assessment revenues to state and local government related to the production and sale of marijuana products. (09-0024.)

It might surprise some of you to learn that I support the legalization of marijuana and the stated goals of this initiative; I've long felt that pot's effects are no worse than those of alcohol. I cannot, however, abide a state's blatant violation of federal law in support of that goal. The state should sue, or be required to sue, but cannot have a law that clearly violates federal law.


maxutils said...

So, let the Feds sue. Their constitutional standing is shaky at best -- were it not for the fact that the right wing half of the court vote whichever way the Republican party platform leans, regardless of what the constitution actually says, we'd have settled this long ago.

Anonymous said...

"So, let the Feds sue. Their constitutional standing is shaky at best..."

The US government's constitutional standing should be shakey, but it isn't. You can do just about anything you want with the interstate commerce clause via prior supreme court precedent :-(

-Mark Roulo