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.
There are two arguments to consider: the benefits of medical marijuana itself and the constitutional argument.
Regardless of whether you think marijuana makes for good medicine, constitutionally this issue should be determined at the state level and by the people. The feds lack any authority enforce a prohibition on cannabis.
Skeptical? The feds needed a constitutional amendment for prohibition of alcohol. So, if an amendment was necessary for alcohol, where did the federal government get the power to regulate marijuana?
Despite the federal prohibition of medical marijuana, the people of Florida, not politicians in Washington DC will determine for themselves the proper course of action. This is how federalism is supposed to work and the point of having the 10th Amendment. The mere fact that the vote is taking place is a victory for those who believe in self-rule.
The feds can’t enforce its ban on medical marijuana without help from the state and local law enforcement. They lack the resources. 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.
Florida could become the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. As each new state passes medical marijuana will pressure other states to follow suit. Can you imagine the message the feds would receive when number 26th passes medical marijuana? With more than half of the states ignoring the federal prohibition, it would further strip this illegitimate power from the feds.
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.
For the tenther, this is the constitutional argument, but what about the issue of medical marijuana itself?
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.