On Nov. 4, Floridians will go to the polls and vote on a state constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana for medical use in the Sunshine State.
Regardless of whether you think marijuana makes for good medicine, proper constitutional order demands a “yes” vote on Amendment 2.
The federal government currently bans marijuana for any use. But constitutionally, the feds lack any authority enforce a prohibition on cannabis. No delegated power to regulate marijuana within a state exists. That role rightly remains with the state and the people. Doubt this? Then ask yourself why alcohol prohibition required and amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The people of Florida have an opportunity to take that authority back.
A state law legalizing medical marijuana strips the power away from the feds and places it where it belongs – within the state. It sends a message to Washington D.C. that the political class needs to hear: we are not going to let you dictate policy in our state, and we aren’t going to let your one-size-fits-all edict deny a treatment option that can help Floridians.
Think about it: constitutionalists who oppose federal regulation of health care through the ACA should want to end federal regulation of a single plant that has demonstrable medical value.
James Madison foresaw this strategy. In Federalist 46, the ‘Father of the Constitution’ gave us a blueprint to follow when the federal government oversteps its bounds. One of the things he recommended was “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union.” That’s exactly what Florida will do if it passes Amendment 2.
Defying the federal prohibition on marijuana also sets a precedent that will carry over to other issues. If Florida can buck the feds on weed, it can also buck them on implementing Obamacare, or on enforcing unconstitutional gun laws, or on cooperating with NSA spying. Approval of Amendment 2 could set the state on a path to more significant victories against unconstitutional federal overreach. Most big wins start with small steps. Medical marijuana could serve as the tip of the spear.
Some people will undoubtedly respond that they cannot support the amendment because they believe in the prohibition of marijuana…period. But prohibitionists who claim fidelity to the Constitution should ask themselves this question: do you value a law against a plant more than proper constitutional order? You really only have three possible options.
1. The status quo – unconstitutional prohibition from the feds on down.
2. Legalize medical marijuana. Constitutional – placing power and control over marijuana at the state level.
3. Well, there really isn’t a three. No other proposal exists.
Legalizing marijuana for medical use would certainly help some patients in Florida. It seems cruel to deny a person relief simply because it comes from a stigmatized plant. It should be difficult for anyone to identify the high road in denying a viable treatment option for a suffering person in order to make a moral statement. But more than that, legalizing medicinal cannabis at the state level strikes a blow to a much more dangerous leviathan – a federal government that absolutely refuses to remain constrained within its constitutionally delegated powers.
A vote for Amendment 2 is, in a very real sense, a much overdue vote for the constitution.