The push to resist Federal Drug policy is advancing once again this legislative session with a number of bills and a number of different approaches being taken at the state level. There are currently 17 states with cannabis legislation this session, despite a new Federal crackdown on cannabis operations in California that were within State and local law.
Pennsylvania lawmakers are now considering a new attempt to address the issue of marijuana, knowing full well that their Governor is not likely to sign anything along those lines. As Governor Corbett has stated before, he believes that the Supreme Court is the ultimate authority of law and that states cannot freely exercise their power under the constitution until the SCOTUS gives them permission. he’s joined in that view by state Rep. John Lawrence, R-13th of Franklin who said, “I’m not a supporter of the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. This is an issue that should be dealt with at the federal level.”
In Massachusetts, a group of lawmakers led by Representative Ellen Story of Amherst are seeking to establish state level cannabis laws. The driving force behind “The Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act” was a Public Policy Question in the 2010 elections, which clearly instructed Story and others to take this issue on. This bill will go before the Judiciary Committee March 6th at 1:00, in a Legalization hearing at the statehouse, room A-2. Anyone is free to attend and address the committee- a prime chance for even those who don’t support marijuana use to explain why in order to be in line with the constitution, cannabis must be addressed at the state rather than Federal level.
Colorado’s Amendment 64 proposes to regulate cannabis like alcohol and will be included on ballots this November. Similar to CA’s “Regulate Marijuana Like Wine” act, Amendment 64 would establish state law for the sale and production of cannabis. One stark difference between the two however, is the total absence of any reference to Federal law enforcement in the Colorado bill. The text of Amendment 64 does not even contain the word ‘Federal’ even one time, while the California version would explicitly forbid the use of state or local resources to enforce Federal policies in situations where the state law conflicts with DC.
Alabama is considering two measures to regulate cannabis that would also be in direct conflict the Federal Controlled Substances Act, although only one of them mentions the relationship between the states and their central government. Alabama’s HB25 introduced by Rep Patricia Todd uses language matching bills introduced in Idaho and Maryland that all state:
“States are not required to enforce federal law 23 or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by 24 federal law. Therefore, compliance with this act does not put 25 the State of Alabama in violation of federal law.”
HB66, Alabama’s second bill on cannabis does not address the conflict of state vs federal in any way, but does limit the ways in which a person can be punished for use of ‘controlled substances’, indirectly referring to the federal Controlled Substances Act.