SALEM, OR. November 04, 2014 – With over 60% of precincts reporting, Oregon voters have approved a ballot measure that effectively nullifies not just one, but two unconstitutional federal acts. Measure 91 has won with a crushing 55-45 margin.
In what is quickly becoming a “game-over” situation for the federal government, Oregon has now become the 3rd state to fully legalize marijuana for recreational purposes in direct defiance of unconstitutional federal acts purporting to prohibit the same. But the nullification effort got a two-fer in Measure 91, as the proposal also authorizes the farming, production and sale of industrial hemp within the state, which is also banned the federal government.
In surprisingly strong language, the approved ballot measure, now part of state statute, prohibits various state employees and agencies from refusing to carry out their duty under the statute on the grounds that doing so would violate federal laws. It reads, in part:
SECTION 11. Powers; licenses; federal law.
(1) Neither the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the State Department of Agriculture, nor the Oregon Health Authority may refuse to perform any duty under sections 3 to 70 of this Act on the basis that manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, possessing, or using marijuana is prohibited by federal law.
(2) The commission may not revoke or refuse to issue or renew a license under sections 3 to 70 of this Act on the basis that manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, possessing, or using marijuana is prohibited by federal law.
SECTION 12. Contracts. No contract shall be unenforceable on the basis that manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, possessing, or using marijuana is prohibited by federal law.
In short, state and local government will not be allow to, as has happened in many other jurisdictions, claim that they cannot further the will of the people because doing so would violate federal law. This is the right position for the state to take, and a powerful stand to reassert the proper constitutional balance on cannabis – including both recreational marijuana and industrial hemp.
While most of the attention on Measure 91 focused on the legalization of recreational marijuana, another extremely important part of the new statute authorizes the production of and commerce in industrial hemp.
Three other states – Colorado, Tennessee and Vermont – have already passed laws authorizing the same measures. Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, effectively nullifying federal restrictions on such agricultural activities.
Experts suggest that the U.S. market for hemp is around $500 million per year. They count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.
During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!”
But, since the enactment of the unconstitutional federal controlled-substances act in 1970, the Drug Enforcement Agency has prevented the production of hemp within the United States. Many hemp supporters feel that the DEA has been used as an “attack dog” of sorts to prevent competition with major industries where American-grown hemp products would create serious market competition: Cotton, Paper/Lumber, Oil, and others.
This year, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The new “hemp amendment”
…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.
Industrial hemp will now be authorized in Oregon with the passage of Measure 91
VIEW FROM THE CONSTITUTION
Regardless of whether you think legalized marijuana makes for good business, proper constitutional order demanded a “yes” vote on Measure 91.
The people of Oregon have just taken that power back.
A state law legalizing 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 rob the People of Oregon their own choice.
Think about it: constitutionalists who oppose federal regulation of health care through the ACA should want to end federal regulation of a single plant as well.
James Madison, the “father of the Constitution,” 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 is doing in two areas with the passage of Measure 91.
Defying the federal prohibition on marijuana also sets a precedent that will carry over to other issues. If Oregon can join Colorado and Washginton State – bucking the feds on weed, they can also buck them on implementing Obamacare, or on enforcing unconstitutional gun laws, or on cooperating with NSA spying. Approval of Measure 91 should serve as a blueprint for states around the country and issues across the political spectrum.
When enough people say no to the federal government and enough states pass laws backing them up, there’s not much that Washington D.C. can do to force its unconstitutional laws, regulations and mandates down our throats.