by Derek Sheriff

Just when you thought Arizona couldn’t get any more provocative, or push any more of the federal government’s buttons, it looks like America’s 48th state may actually become the 15th state to adopt another very controversial law!

This proposed law, on the other hand, may actually make some people on the Left, as well as the Right, happy for a change. I have my doubts about whether it will make those who put party above principle, or anyone employed by the U.S. Department of Justice happy, however.

While Arizona was getting tons of media attention related to the passage of its high profile immigration enforcement law, (SB 1070), the grassroots activists that were delivering more than 100 boxes of petitions containing 252,000 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office received little.

But this week, Fox 11 Arizona’s website reported:

“Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s office on Tuesday certified that organizers of the initiative campaign had turned in enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot.”

What measure is he referring to?

The Medical Marijuana Initiative, of course! The initiative, which Arizona voters will soon have a chance to vote into law this November, would do seven things according to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project’s website:

  • Allow terminally and seriously ill patients who find relief from marijuana to use it with their doctors’ approval.
  • Protect these seriously ill patients from arrest and prosecution for the simple act of taking their doctor-recommended medicine.
  • Permit qualifying patients or their caregivers to legally purchase their medicine from tightly regulated clinics, as they would any other medicine — so they need not purchase it from the criminal market.
  • Permit qualifying patients or their caregivers to cultivate their own marijuana for medical use if a regulated medical marijuana clinic is not located within 25 miles of the qualifying patient.
  • Create registry identification cards, so that law enforcement officials could easily tell who was a registered patient, and establish penalties for false statements and fraudulent ID cards.
  • Allow patients and their caregivers who are arrested to discuss their medical use in court.
  • Keep commonsense restrictions on the medical use of marijuana, including prohibitions on public use of marijuana and driving under the influence of marijuana.

The AMMPP, which is a grassroots organization, has been devoted to passing a medical marijuana initiative in Arizona in November 2010. As they explain on their homepage:

“Currently, seriously ill people who use marijuana on the advice of their doctor to treat illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis are subject to arrest and imprisonment, simply for trying to stimulate their appetite or alleviate their pain.”


People who often dismiss state laws allowing the use of medical marijuana always seem to argue that “federal law trumps state law” and that federal “laws” still prohibit the possession, use, cultivation or distribution of the plant, even for medical purposes.

It’s true that federal “laws” make no exceptions for those who are sick and suffering, and the Feds have claimed universal jurisdiction, even over plants that are grown and consumed by patients in their own home. But I wish more of these critics, (and all Americans for that matter), would take the time to ask the following question:

“Which of the enumerated powers delegated to the federal government under the Constitution gives them the authority to prohibit the cultivation or use of marijuana at all, for any reason?”

It’s a fair question, and I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer to it. Michael Boldin, founder of the Los Angeles based Tenth Amendment Center puts it this way:

“An honest reading of the Constitution with an original understanding of the Founders and Ratifiers makes it quite clear that the federal government has no constitutional authority to override state laws on marijuana. All three branches of the federal government, however, have interpreted (and re-interpreted) the commerce clause of the Constitution to authorize them to engage in this activity, even though there’s supposedly no ‘legal’ commerce in the plant. At best, these arguments are dubious; at worst an intentional attack on the Constitution and your liberty.”

I know it’s difficult for educated, reasonably intelligent people to understand how cultivating, harvesting and consuming a plant, all on one’s own property, is actually in fact, a form of “interstate commerce”. However, that is only because it defies common sense, which is something the unelected, black robed demi-gods who preside over our federal court system do with ease almost daily. We mere mundanes, on the other hand, lack their special wisdom, which allows them to interpret the words of the Constitution in a more innovative and sophisticated way. Our duty is to stand in awe, bow our heads, wave incense before their judgement seats, and to suppress any impulse we might have to think critically about their interpretations.

Don’t be fooled. As far as medical marijuana is concerned, all marijuana that is produced within a state’s boundaries and stays there, falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of that state!

Congressional Commerce Clause Abuse

It’s funny that the same “Commerce Clause”, which has been pervert ed by the federal government to prohibit the medical use of marijuana, was also the same clause that was twisted to justify passing the legislation that gave us Obamacare. Fortunately, Arizona voters will have the opportunity to effectively nullify both Obamacare and the federal prohibition of medical marijuana this November.

Whether you approve of people using it for any reason, medical or otherwise, the fact of the matter is that unless and until the US Constitution is properly amended (the way it had to be in order to enact alcohol prohibition), the federal government has no authority to interfere with seriously ill Arizonans who decide to use marijuana with their state government’s permission.

The last time I checked, I discovered that although the 10th Amendment has been largely ignored by the Feds, it has not not been officially repealed. Just like all health care decisions, a person’s choice to use or not use Medical Marijuana is a sensitive and highly personal decision. It’s a decision that should, at the very most, be decided by we the people, in our own state, not by politicians or unelected bureaucrats and judges in far off Washington, DC!

Like every other state level measure designed to nullify unconstitutional acts of federal usurpation, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Initiative has the potential to be an unstoppable choice if the people of Arizona simply resolve to exercise their constitutional rights, with or without Washington, DC’s permission.

The County Sheriff, America’s Last Hope

But won’t the DEA come in and arrest people who are dispensing medical marijuana and/or even the sick and dying people who use it?

Well, the answer to that question largely depends on whether or not your state officials, especially your elected county sheriff, allows them to get away with doing that.

More and more sheriffs and candidates who are running for the office of sheriff, are boldly coming out and frankly saying that they will not tolerate federal agents who would dare to harass and arrest the innocent people they have sworn to protect.

Bill Hunt, for example, is a candidate for sheriff of Orange County, CA.  He is part of a growing movement of incumbents and candidates seeking the elected office of sheriff who have seen the light.  This great awakening of sheriffs across the country has mostly been the result of the educational efforts of former under cover narcotics officer and two term Graham County, AZ sheriff, Richard Mack.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent interview with Bill Hunt:

Question: “If you are elected sheriff and the DEA came into Orange County (OC) and asked OC Sheriff’s Department to help shut down medical marijuana dispensaries, would you oblige them with support?”

Bill Hunt: “No. I would prevent them, it’s unconstitutional! I’m not an advocate for legalizing marijuana but on tpthe other hand the sheriff is elected to enforce state laws. So, if I’m elected sheriff to this county enforcing state law and I’m using federal law to circumvent state law, then I’m not really being true to my office and my oath of office. The sheriff can prevent the feds from coming in and doing that.”

I can assure you, Bill Hunt is not alone. There are sheriffs already in office, and many more running for office, who agree with him 100%. But even if you don’t live in a county with a sheriff who takes his oath to support and defend the Constitution seriously (give him a copy of Sheriff Mack’s book and start educating him about his oath, or replace him with someone who is committed to keeping it), here is what the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has to say about the matter that is very optimistic:

“Even within the confines of federal law, states can enact reforms that have the practical effect of removing the fear of patients being arrested and prosecuted under state law — as well as the symbolic effect of pushing the federal government to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana..Federal laws still apply to patients. While the federal government does not have the resources to arrest, try, and incarcerate a significant number of small-scale medical marijuana users and growers, the federal government has raided some large-scale medical marijuana distributors in California. However, because 99 out of 100 marijuana arrests are made at the state or local level, state medical marijuana laws give patients 99% protection.”

The Will Of The People And The Power Of The States

Take a step back and look at the big picture for a moment. What the MPP says about enforcement of the federal laws criminalizing medical marijuana also applies to other unconstitutional federal laws that states might decide to nullify. Some examples are: Obamacare, Cap and Trade, federal regulations on firearms manufactured and kept within state boundaries, the federal plan to ban incandescent light bulbs, or federal regulations that might prohibit the sale and consumption of raw milk. All of these have to actually be enforced by someone.

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If the people of a state choose to ignore the federal government’s unconstitutional acts of usurpation, which it mistakenly refers to as “laws”, and their state government stops assisting the Feds in their enforcement efforts, the reality is that the federal government does not have the resources or manpower to investigate, arrest, try, and incarcerate a significant number of those people who choose to ignore illegitimate federal edicts and instead exercise their constitutional rights.

The truth is that when enough people within a given state begin to form a consensus that certain federal laws forced upon them are unconstitutional and therefore illegitimate, and a majority of their government officials at the state and local level agree with and support them, then the idea that Thomas Jefferson expressed so clearly in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, will be actualized:

“.. whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force…”

Let’s make it so.

Derek Sheriff
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