LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Jan. 2, 2018) – In Nov. 2016, voters in California approved a ballot measure legalizing marijuana for general use by adults. Yesterday, that law went into effect, a big step toward nullifying the unconstitutional federal prohibition of cannabis in practice.
With passage of Proposition 64, Californians who are 21 and older will be able to possess, transport and buy marijuana and to use it for recreational purposes. That expands the law that 20 years ago legalized marijuana for medical use, the first state in the country to do so.
In short, marijuana is now legal in California for adults 21 and older, and individuals can grow up to six plants and possess as much as an ounce of the drug.
However, all of this is prohibited under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), an unconstitutional measure passed in 1970. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Legalization of marijuana in California removes a huge layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in the world’s 6th largest economy, something that will be extremely difficult for federal prohibitionists to overcome.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A bill to withdraw state support from federal marijuana prohibition enforcement is also under consideration in the California Senate for 2018.
Introduced by Asm. Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), Assembly Bill 1578 (AB1578) would ban the use of “agency money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by law in the State of California.”
In addition to blocking local officials from participating in federal-only cannabis prohibition, the law would prevent them from sharing personal information with the federal government about cannabis businesses or consumers who are in compliance with state law.
Medical marijuana has been legal in California since voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996. Since that time, marijuana has grown to become the largest cash crop in the state, with more revenue than the next five products combined. The $23.3 billion dollar industry is likely to be significantly larger in the coming months and years.
FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By ending state enforcement of any federal prohibition that is legal under state law, AB1578 would essentially sweep away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests in the state.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association, told the Los Angeles Times the bill was “really quite offensive.” “This is ridiculous that this looks like a solution to somebody,” said Youngblood.
Based on James Madison’s advice for states and individuals in Federalist #46, a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” represents an extremely effectively method to bring down federal gun control measures because most enforcement actions rely on help, support and leadership from the states.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano agreed. In a televised discussion on the issue, he noted that a single state taking this step would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible” to enforce.
Partnerships don’t work too well when half the team quits. By withdrawing all resources and participation in federal marijuana prohibition schemes, the states can effectively bring them down.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
California was one of eight states with measures on the ballot to to legalize marijuana for either for medical or general adult use in 2016. This was the largest number of states that have considered nullifying marijuana prohibition in a single election cycle.
The state joins a growing number that are simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have all legalized both recreational and medical marijuana, and more than two-dozen states now allow cannabis for medical use.
With half the country legalizing marijuana, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.
The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats.