The American justice system is failing. America has the highest rate of incarceration with many offenders filling the cells due to mild, personal drug use, and while this is one of many reasons for the decimalization of drugs, the decriminalization of drugs isn’t the point of this article. The point is to focus on what this failing justice system means and how drug laws have in a very real way helped to create an American tyranny.
In 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment of the Constitution went into effect prohibiting the sale of alcohol in America not just by law, but by a Constitutional Amendment, but over a period of 13 years, Prohibition failed miserably, and in 1933 the Twenty-First Amendment was ratified placing alcohol back on the streets. The importance of this was two-fold: 1) There was documented evidence that making drugs illegal doesn’t work and 2) a precedent was set that to illegalize drugs a Constitutional Amendment is necessary.
In the first case, it is readily seen even today by mass incarceration of drug offenders that the illegalization of drugs still doesn’t work, but the focus of this article is on the second issue and the fact that that precedent is no longer being followed. Drugs are now made illegal simply by law and law alone. Now this might not seem like a big deal, but it is arguable that when America first stopped following this precedent, many seeds of tyranny were planted in the American garden.
This precedent analyzed narrowly appears to be only about drugs, but in a broader light, it also regards all self-harming behavior and in an even broader context, it regards any and all behavior one may commit. But laws, except in authoritarian regimes, are not meant to protect a man from himself or to regulate personal behavior. The true purpose of law is to protect one from another. The laws maintain order by protecting the citizens not from themselves but from each other. For this, if a law must be made to protect one from one’s self, it reasons that a Constitutional Amendment be necessary and that was the precedent set by the federal government through the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment, and though the Amendment itself was unjust, the precedent at least was a valuable one, one no longer being followed.
Let us also point out that the illegalizing of any self-harming behavior without a Constitutional Amendment does another very dangerous thing: it stretches the power of the supremacy clause in such a way that the federal government can create laws to regulate behavior as it wishes without interference. For example, while marijuana is medicinally available in 17 states, the federal government can still arrest, detain, and try those using marijuana in those states simply because federal law, according to the supremacy clause, is supreme to all other law, state or otherwise.
Thus by creating a law that serves only to protect a man from himself, the federal government makes itself lord over that man, that citizen, and failing to allow state intervention to protect that citizen, and even having the ability to punish that state, the federal government becomes lord of that state as well. Look at Arizona for example, which has essentially been ceded to drug cartels in United States vs. Arizona because Arizona passed a law the federal government disagreed with. In other words, the federal government has made tyranny Constitutional.
But it doesn’t end there. The government as a result has also begun creating laws that usurp the Constitution itself. The hypocrisy here is evident. In order to create a law to control a person’s behavior and to stop interference from the states, the supremacy clause is used readily. But now the supremacy clause can be used for the purpose of creating laws which are unconstitutional and violate the rights of the citizenry and with drones in the skies, the rights of the states. Today, laws do not solely exist to protect citizens from each other, but to protect the federal government from the citizens and the states.
Now that is not to say that drug laws are the only or the main reason for the existence of such laws, but their existence alone has set a precedent contradicting that set by Prohibition and this, in part, has allowed for the creation of tyranny. The reason for the existence of laws has shifted from that given in a democracy, a republic, or an in anyway free society to the reason in only authoritarian regimes. Laws protect the government now, not the people and that is a scary thing.