NH Medical Marijuana Bill Faces Veto

The New Hampshire Senate passed legislation 13-to-11 Wednesday, March 28, 2012 to allow a patient with a “debilitating medical condition” or that patient’s designated caretaker to cultivate and possess up to six ounces of marijuana, four mature plants and 12 seedlings at a registered “cultivation location.” It would allow the patient or caregiver to possess two ounces elsewhere. 

Despite vocal support from several traditional opponents including Senate Republican Leader Jeb Bradley, it failed to gather the two-thirds majority needed for a veto override.

Governor John Lynch has opposed several medical marijuana bills in recent years. He vetoed a dispensary approach in 2009, citing concerns over proliferation and cultivation beyond the dispensaries, and another medical marijuana bill died last year in the Senate after he had promised a veto. 

Following the Senate vote, Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said the bill was even less restrictive than the dispensary approach, and the governor plans to veto it (Boston Globe).

With seven Republicans supporting the bill, allowing the legislation to cross party lines, and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voting 5-0 to approve the bill, Senator Jim Forsythe (R) is leading the charge to build a veto proof majority for the legislation.

If they are successful, the New Hampshire program would resemble those in Maine and Vermont and would end in three years if lawmakers do not renew it, providing an outlet for review and reform.


No Child Left Behind: Federal Funds vs State Sovereignty

States suffering from the nightmare that is “No Child Left Behind,” President G. W. Bush’s 2001 federal education legislation intended to boost productivity and performance of America’s public school students, have been offered a “waiver” from President Obama; unfortunately, there are strings attached. According to Lindsey Burke with The Foundry:

“The waivers actually fail to provide genuine relief to states, instead handing control of local school policy over to the Department of Education. The conditions-based waivers circumvent Congress and represent a significant new executive overreach… One of the most concerning conditions attached to the waivers is the requirement for states to adopt common standards and tests or have their state university approve their standards. None of the states have opted for the latter, as the Obama Administration’s many previous carrots and sticks ($4.35 billion in Race to the Top grants and potential Title I dollars) have already pushed them to begin implementing the Common Core national standards and tests…. Having national organizations and the Department of Education dictating standards and tests will effectively centralize control of the content taught in local schools. It’s an unprecedented and dangerous federal overreach. Circumventing Congress by granting strings-attached waivers from the White House shows a disregard for the legislative process and a not-so-veiled effort to further grow federal control over education.”

With unconstitutional regulations either way, many state legislators are proposing nullification. While state Representatives like Michael Weeden from New Hampshire began with bold statements such as, “I was in fifth grade when this bill was passed and I saw first-hand the ineffectiveness of this bill to lay standards of education, at a high cost to the cities and towns of the state, because they don’t provide adequate funding for their requests… More and more schools are falling into the failed category, and it’s because of the testing, not necessarily the education.”


Arizona “Neutralization” Bill Offers a Nullification Power Punch

In March of 2011, Governor Herbert of Utah signed House Bill 76. This law provides additional funding for the state’s Constitutional Defense Commission and give it the authority to try negotiation and mediation before taking the federal government to court over federal law that has been deemed unconstitutional in regard to powers given to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution. This gives Utah state legislators a clear path to challenge unconstitutional federal law and, hopefully, sends a message to federal lawmakers.

This year, along with many other pending bills that challenge federal authority in the state, Arizona has introduced SB 1358 (neutralization; federal laws). This short piece of legislation packs a powerful punch. Like the Utah legislation, if signed into law, the bill will allow for a committee (the Joint Legislative Committee on Neutralization of Federal Laws) to be established. This committee will not only review new federal legislation (within 30 days of its passing), but also review all existing federal statutes, mandates, and executive orders for the purpose of determining their constitutionality, and can recommend them for neutralization as well. Unlike the Utah law, however, after committee recommendation, a simple majority vote by the state legislature on the grounds of constitutionality is all that is necessary for neutralization. If that occurs, the bill mandates that the state and its citizens “shall not recognize or be obligated to live under the statute, mandate or executive order.”

Senator Lori Klein, who drafted the bill, stated, “We have in Washington a particularly overreaching administration as well as regulations that are coming out of agencies that are not even mandated from Congress. The states have a right to stand up to these kinds of onerous regulations.”  The bill itself contains strong wording in regard to its purpose, “This act serves as a notice and demand to the government to cease and desist all activities outside of the scope of their constitutionally designated powers that diminishes the balance of powers as established.”


The People’s Power: Jury Nullification

While once considered a very important role in our nation, jury duty is now most commonly viewed as another hindrance in the lives of the American people. I wonder if people knew just how much power they wield as jury members, if that would change? I hope so.

The first Chief Justice, John Jay, stated the following to the first jury in the first Supreme Court trial held in the United States:

It may not be amiss, here, gentlemen, to remind you of the good old rule, that on questions of fact, it is the province of the jury, on questions of law it is the province of the court to decide. But it must be observed that by the same law, which recognizes this reasonable distribution of jurisdiction, you have nevertheless a right to take upon yourselves to judge of both, and to determine the law as well as the fact controversy. On this, and on every other occasion, however, we have no doubt you will pay that respect which is due to the opinion of the court; for, as on the one hand, it is presumed that juries are the best judges of facts; it is, on the other hand, presumable that the courts are the best judges of law. But still, both objects are lawfully within your power of decision (Georgia vs Brailsford 1794).


The Education Vortex

America touts the best educational system in the world – our federal government, at least, spends a good deal on education ranking second behind Switzerland on money per child– an average of $91,700 per student in the nine years between the ages of 6 and 15 according to “Losing the Brain Race” by Veronique de Rugy   (reason.com March 2011). Unfortunately, our children’s academic success does not correlate with the money that is spent; while we are second in spending, America’s students rank in the mid-range for all major academic areas; de Rugy states, “ we spend one-third more per student than Finland, which consistently ranks near the top in science, reading, and math… During the last 40 years, the federal government has spent $1.8 trillion on education, and spending per pupil in the U.S. has tripled in real terms. Government at all levels spent an average of $149,000 on the 13-year education of a high school senior who graduated in 2009, compared to $50,000 (in 2009 dollars) for a 1970 graduate.”

Poor academic showing is not the only consequence of our federally governed education system, however. We have also suffered a great loss of liberty in that schooling is compulsory, curriculum is designed and distributed by publishing companies with deep ties to the government itself, and parents have been left with no say in what is happening to their children, and treated as though they are not qualified to criticize or question the system that is so very flawed. The government would like us to believe that we need more “funding” to fix the broken system. “We have tried spending more money and putting more teachers in classrooms for more than a generation, with no observable improvements to anything except the schools’ bottom lines,” states de Rugy. “If reform is to be defined by something other than the amount of money flushed down the toilet, it is time to reverse the flow of power from the top (administrators, school districts, teachers unions, governments) to the bottom ( students , their parents, and taxpayers who want their money spent wisely).”