Sometimes good things happen in D.C. when states act first.
As a follow up to his recent post on how some nullification works and some doesn’t (to which I replied HERE), Mises Institute editor Ryan McMaken reports on how state action to legalize marijuana in Colorado has filtered up to spur Congressional efforts that undermine federal prohibition.
Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) has introduced legislation that would “protect” legal cannabis in Colorado from future federal executive branch action. The bill would presumably apply to other states as well, prohibiting federal enforcement action in states with legalized marijuana.
The proposed bill enjoys bipartisan support among the Colorado congressional delegation.
The Obama administration has pretty much taken a hands-off approach to state legalized marijuana, but no guarantee exists that it will continue.
“The threat of adverse federal action remains, especially if a future president to this one approaches marijuana issues differently,” DeGette said.
It’s pretty amazing to see a bill introduced in Congress that could undermine long-standing federal prohibition of weed gain any traction at all. As McMaken points out, it would never have happened if states hadn’t acted first.
“Of course, no such legislation would exist at all if the state had not first gone ahead and voted to ignore federal law and legalize recreational cannabis. Efforts in Congress to lessen federal Drug War power is a direct consequence of state-level disobedience to acts of Congress. In other words, state-level nullification has put cannabis legalization on the table for the first time in decades in a way that would not have been possible had the locals followed the advice of the “rule of law” crowd. In reality, there is no lack of “rule of law” in Colorado. It’s just the rule of Colorado law.” [Emphasis added]
This illustrates another powerful byproduct of state nullification. As more states resist a given federal action, pressure on Congress and other federal authorities to end such action increases as well. State nullification “turns up the heat” on the feds and can oftentimes drive changes in D.C.
McMaken argues that additional states legalizing recreational marijuana will increase the likelihood of Dehett’s bill passing.
“As the movement grows, the success of such legislation will become increasingly likely. This is especially true if California finally votes to legalize, as becomes more likely with each passing election cycle. (According to some polls, 55 percent of Californians now support legalization, and a new ballot initiative is being prepared.)”
While nullification efforts should never focus or fixate on influencing politicians in D.C., they can certainly serve as a driving force for changes in federal policy – a desirable side-effect.
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