New Hampshire Joins The Rising Tidal Wave of States Considering Defying Feds on Weed

The federal prohibition on marijuana doesn’t seem to serve as much of a deterrent to the people of those states who want it legalized within their borders.

Congress and the president claim the constitutional authority to prohibit weed. The Supreme Court concurs. But claiming something doesn’t make it so. I can claim I am a unicorn, but I still don’t have a horn. Clearly, the Constitution delegates no power of marijuana regulation to the feds. And the so-called war on drugs rests on the same legal authority as all of the other modern-day undeclared wars.

None.

So, more and more states continue to do exactly what they should do when the federal government tries exercise power it does not legitimately possess.

Ignore it.

Eighteen states have done just that, legalizing medical marijuana. That wave continues to build, with seven state legislatures already considering medicinal cannabis legislation in the  2013 session, and more likely to follow suit. Then we have the people Colorado and Washington taking the next step, voting for legalization last November.  And at least two more states will consider marijuana legalization in 2013.

Earlier this month, New Hampshire state Rep. Mark Warden (R-Manchester), along with seven cosponsors, introduced HB337. The proposed act “removes the criminal penalties for possession or use of marijuana.”

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Federal Money to the States Isn’t ‘Free’

Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist A. Barton Hinkle recently made what should be a simple point to understand, but it’s unfortunately one that few people seem to appreciate. Writing about the supposed win-win situation whereby states expand Medicaid coverage and the federal government foots most of the bill, Hinkle reminds readers that the “free” federal money isn’t really free:

In Virginia, officials estimate expanding Medicaid would cost the state $137.5 million over nine years, while the state would receive $23 billion from Washington.

Other states report similar figures. California expects to enroll up to 910,000 residents for a cost beginning at only $46 million a year, while collecting $44 billion in federal funds over a six-year period. An Illinois study estimates that state would spend about $2 billion on expanded Medicaid over the next decade, while reaping $22 billion in federal funds. According to Danielle Holohan, who is in charge of New York’s insurance exchange, Medicaid expansion “actually works out to be an enormous savings” for the Empire State. And so on.

This all sounds great—if you are a state official. But if you are a lowly taxpayer, it leaves out one rather significant point: Where is all that federal money coming from?

No great mystery: Most of that money would come from taxpayers who live in the very states that are looking forward to these supposed windfalls. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, if every state signed up for Medicaid expansion, then the federal government would spend nearly $1 trillion over the next nine years—paid for by you.

So you don’t have to wait for Medicaid expansion to reap this sort of “windfall.” Just take 5 bucks out of your left pocket and put it in your right. As far as your right pocket is concerned, you’re 5 bucks richer. It’s free money!

In addition to not being free, federal subsidization of state spending makes it harder for taxpayers to understand and appreciate where their money is going and how it’s being spent. A Cato essay on fiscal federalism explains:

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Gary Raney: The Slave-Catching Sheriff of Ada County, Idaho

by William Norman Grigg

If Idaho had been part of the Union in 1850, and Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney had occupied that office at the time, he would have dutifully arrested any black man or woman identified as an escaped slave. Oh, sure, Raney may have expressed agonized reluctance as he did so – but that reluctance would have been rhetorical window-dressing for his pious invocation of the sacred responsibility he had to submit to the “law of the land.”

This is the inescapable logic of the position Raney has taken in an op-ed column published last week in the Idaho Statesman.

“I have been asked many times in the past couple of weeks whether I will uphold my oath to defend the Constitution and proclaim an intolerance of federal action against the Second Amendment,” Raney writes. Many others have indulged that pressure and now we see Oregon sheriffs, Wyoming legislators and others making hollow promises to protect you from the intrusions of the federal government.”

“I did not swear to uphold just part of the Constitution,” Raney continues, before tacitly promising to do that very thing. You see, the Constitution, on Raney’s construction, “includes the right to keep and bear arms, but it also includes the `supremacy clause’ that says that every state shall abide by the laws passed by our Congress.”

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Missouri Starts Fight for Intrastate Freedom

Missouri’s House Representative, Chrissy Sommer has filed a bill called the Intrastate Commerce Act or HB 181. This bill was filed along with HB 162 which is Missouri’s Firearms Freedom Act. These two bills go hand-in-hand. While the Firearms Freedom Act upholds the Federal Government to it limited Constitutional powers to not infringe on the the right to bear arms, the Intrastate Commerce Act of Missouri reaffirms that a state is in control of the commerce that happens within the state while the federal government is only limited to regulating the commerce between states.

This bill states, “All goods produced or manufactured, whether commercially or privately, within the boundaries of this state that are held, maintained, or retained within the boundaries of this state shall not be deemed to have traveled in interstate commerce and shall not be subject to federal law, federal regulation, or the authority of the Congress of the United States under its constitutional power to regulate commerce. This section shall apply to goods that are manufactured within this state from basic materials or parts. The authority of the Congress of the United States to regulate interstate commerce in basic materials or parts shall not include the authority to regulate goods manufactured within this state from such materials or parts.”

The Constitution states, “The Congress shall have power… to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes…The Congress shall have Power…to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.” Robert Natelson notes in The Original Constitution that there are misconceptions of the commerce clause in the Constitution, that the regulation of commerce is not exclusively enumerated to Congress and that commerce did not include everything under the sun. The states still have immense power to regulate commerce within their own state and even with foreign nations.

Natelson writes, “Federalists repeatedly represented that the Constitution would leave the states as the sole government regulators of the vast majority of human actives. They affirmed that the central government would have almost no role over…use of personal property outside commerce, wills and inheritance, business regulation and licensing, manufacturing” and others.

Also Natelson writes, “The Constitution banned states from imposing duties on imports or exports without the consent of Congress…otherwise, states were free to regulate commerce with foreign nations–and even to impose embargoes on goods from outside–subject to preemption by Congress or by federal treaties.”

The reason HB 181 and 162 go hand-in-hand is because the cry for gun control unleashes the federal government out of bounds of its limited duties. Senator Feinstein of California published legislation that is purely unconstitutional and infringes on the states rights to regulate commerce within its own boundaries.

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