Oregon residents will once again have the opportunity to nullify the federal drug war as the Secretary of State officially authorized a measure that would fully legalize marijuana for adults aged 21 or older to be voted upon this fall.
Members of the marijuana advocacy group New Approach Oregon turned in 145,710 signatures in June, far more than the 87,213 required for the initiative to receive a popular vote. Those signatures have since been vetted and approved by the state for placement on the ballot for the Nov. 4 election. If approved by voters, the measure, known as Initiative Petition 53 (IP53), would legalize marijuana and regulate it in a similar manner as alcohol within the state.
The federal government prohibits marijuana, even if a state authorizes it – whether for medical or recreational purposes. It lacks any constitutional authority for the ban. Doubt this? As yourself why it required a constitutional amendment to institute a similar national ban on alcohol. But states and localities across the U.S. have pushed back against the ban, legalizing marijuana for medical use – or in the case of Washington and Colorado, recreational purposes as well. Authorizing at the state level what the feds attempt to prohibit nationally creates an effective nullification of unconstitutional federal prohibition on marijuana businesses. The federal law has essentially become unenforceable.
A similar ballot proposal failed for Oregon in 2012, but the success that other states have had in legalizing marijuana could make voters reconsider their decision this time around. In Colorado, the first six months of legalization have brought about significant monetary return without the increase in crime and degeneracy promised from marijuana detractors. A June Denver Post article reported that the state had already taken in nearly $11 million in sales and excise taxes through the first four months of 2014 from legalized marijuana. According to a May report in Vox Magazine, the city of Denver has experienced a drop in violent crime and property crime in comparison to 2013, prior to legalization.
This is good news for nullifiers and freedom advocates throughout the country, and bad news for the federal supremacists who claimed the sky would fall if marijuana was legalized. The Colorado legalization experiment demonstrates to Americans that bucking federal power can yield major benefits in terms of both revenue and safety.
The legalization of 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 refuse to let your one-size-fits-all edict destroy Oregon sovereignty and squander precious resources on a failed crusade.
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 does not pose a serious threat to the public health.
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 Oregon will do if it passes IP53.
Some people will undoubtedly respond that they cannot support IP53 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 marijuana. Constitutional – placing power and control over marijuana at the state level.
3. Well, there really isn’t a three. No other proposal exists.
A vote for IP53 is, in a very real sense, a much overdue vote for the Constitution.