I have always been very clear. I am not a libertarian. I believe that the government has the right to ban pot. I especially believe that states have the right to ban drugs and marijuana in particular. However, the new ballot initiatives in Colorado and Washington are interesting primers in Federalism and as such, I welcome the debate and fight.
I am a firm believer in Federalism. The federal government has very specific powers under our Constitution. Everything else is reserved to the states, unless of course it is specifically banned in the Constitution. Marijuana falls under this. While the commerce clause does give the federal government jurisdiction over interstate commerce. What about pot that is grown in a state, never leaves the state, and is only enjoyed legally by residents of that state?
Therein lies the battle. In Gonzales v. Raich (2005), the Supreme Court ruled that Congress does have the power to act in such a manner and this expanded the commerce clause dramatically.
I believe they were wrong. This is also, about the only case where I have been seriously disappointed in Scalia.
Now, the reason that conservatives should support this fight has nothing to do with pot. In fact, pot smoking is ancillary to the discussion at hand. The fundamental question lies, IF there is no limit to the commerce clause then do states really have any autonomy at all? This is why most liberals support the federal government enacting its powers in Colorado and Washington. They want to maintain vast federal power. This is an issue of federalism and liberty. These discussions should be had at the state level. IF Colorado wants to be the New Amsterdam…let it. If Nebraska wants to ban all forms of abortion…let it. If Ohio wants to impose unionization on everyone…let it. If Indiana wants NO unionization at all…let it. These issues are the reason we have legislatures. Indeed, there are some things that state governments can’t ban or do. We have a Bill of Rights to cover that. But, for the most part, on most issues…if you don’t like what your state is doing. Fight it at the ballot box…or move. IF Nevada wants to be the prostitution, gambling, pot smoking capitol of the world? Families probably won’t want to live there. But that isn’t my problem…I live in Ohio. States have rights. The 10th amendment is supposed to ensure this. However, liberals are more interested in finding the right to abortion in the Bill of Rights than reading the 10th amendment.
This is why, even though I disagree with the policy, I support Washington and Colorado’s right to do what they did under their state constitutions and our Federal Constitution. (Even if ballot measures are way too democratic for my taste)
This will end up back at the Supreme Court. I just hope that the Roberts court will get it right.