Hands down, there is no better example of the 10th Amendment and nullification in action than the medical marijuana movement around the country today.
The 10th Amendment codifies in law that Â “we the people” of the several states created the federal government to be our agent for certain, enumerated purposes…and nothing more.
And, nullification is what we should be doing when the federal government moves in on “purposes” that it shouldn’t be involved in. Â You know, like telling people what kind of plant they can grow in their own backyard and consume in their own home.
Going further, nullification is any act or set of acts on a state level where the end result is a federal law being rendered unenforceable. Â That’s exactly the process that’s happening when states pass laws to allow people to use a plant that the federal government wants to jail you for.
When my home state of California was preparing to vote on Prop 215 15 years ago, three different presidents campaigned against it. Â And the pundits railed against it. Â Sick people using weed in California? Â Woah…the world is going to end! Â That was the opposition’s message.
Â Â They told us that the supremacy clause meant that federal law always trumps state law, ignoring the fact that only federal laws “in pursuance of” the constitution trump state laws. Â They told us that we Californians can’t just “pick and choose” which laws to obey. Â We were warned that the DEA would fully enforce federal law no matter how the vote turned out.
Were people scared off? Â Maybe some were, but the law was passed anyway. Â In the early years of the program, the Feds weren’t too kind, and distributors and patients alike had to do their deeds mostly in secret.
But the program grew, no pun intended, of course. Â As the years passed by, more people began to openly defy D.C. More doctors approved patients. Â More and more stores opened up around the state. Â And more patients did what they wanted to do…without permission from Washington DC.
But it hasn’t been an easy path. Â The Feds routinely busted people. Â Supposedly they were simply upholding the law and “protecting” people. Â But, I always believed it was to set an example and scare other would-be defyers. Â
Some of their busts were pretty high profile. Â But over the years, they’ve definitely reduced in scope, frequency, and intensity. Â And, now that there are over 150 marijuna stores around Los Angeles alone, it’s gotten to the point that they just don’t have the manpower to shut everything down. Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles… it would take an army to shut down such a huge industry in a huge state. Â Here in L.A. there’s rarely federal interference, especially in comparison to the number of businesses and the number of days in operation each year.
But Californians haven’t been going it alone. Â By 2005, there were ten states with active medical marijuana programs. Â That year, the supreme court ruled that growing a plant in one’s yard and consuming it at home somehow fit as interstate commerce, and that the Feds could continue to jail you no matter what state laws were passed to the contrary.
After that ruling, you’d think that at least a few states would’ve repealed their laws. Â None did. Â And since then, even more have joined up. Â In November, 2010, voters in Arizona approved prop 203, making that state number 15.
Following that lead, a large number of states are working on similar legislation this year too. Â It’s not inconceivable that half the states will be openly defying federal law in the near future.
In my opinion, this is making the powers-that-be a bit nervous. Â If this continues, we serfs just might get the crazy idea that we can get away with this and apply the same principle to other issues. Â Can’t have that!
So, in the last few months, the fake liberal administration headed by Barack Obama has upped the ante against cancer patients, and other individuals and local businesses. Â In Montana, while bills were being considered to fully repeal that state’s marijuana program, the Feds came through with some major raids to flex their muscle…and likely to scare good people into thinking it’s a bad idea to have such a program in their state.
Increased restrictions passed in Montana, but the outright repeal failed. Â And, over in Washington state, a new marijuana bill passed the legislature by a wide margin. Â In response, the Feds threatened the people of that state, warning them of dire consequences should they violate federal “law.” The governor buckled and vetoed the bill. Â
Additional threat letters are reportedly being sent to many states around the country. Â When far off leaders issue warnings to people to stop governing themselves how they locally see fit, you know someone’s losing their grip.
What’s the point? Â Scare tactics can work for a while, but in the long run, they will fail.
California can offer a lesson here. Â The threats will come from time to time. Â Know this and accept it. Â And, recognize that they are likely to be more intense at times when new freedoms are close to arriving, or when critical votes are due in state legislatures. Â
So what to do? Â Stand strong. Â When they threaten. Â Ignore them. Â When they raid, support the victims. Â When they close one store, open ten others. Â When one state government gets scared, encourage another to join up….like Delaware, which became number 16 just last week.
Eventually, there will be far too many of us, and they will lose. Â They’re already losing today, and it can be seen in places like California, Colorado, and now Arizona and Delaware too. Â
Federal marijuana laws are not yet fully nullified, but in practice, things are well on their way. Â And while they’ll likely never be “legally” nullified, what does it matter if congress has some stupid law on the books if enough of us resist to the point that enforcement is little more than a joke? Â Nothing!
In the long run, I sure hope that we serfs DO get the crazy idea that these principles can be applied to other issues. Â It seems like that’s starting to happen already in Texas, where the house just passed a bill to ban TSA violations of the 4th amendment, or in Maine where a bill is being considered which would refuse deployment of national guard troops to foreign wars as the Constitution requires.
But, I will continue to be happy with one step at a time. Â And with that, number 16 Delaware, I salute you. Â Welcome to the resistance.
Latest posts by Michael Boldin (see all)
- Weed: Blueprint for the Modern Nullification Movement - July 7, 2017
- 11 Years in the Making - June 25, 2017
- Madison, Parsons, Jefferson: States as a Check on Federal Power - June 9, 2017