FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 10, 2019) – A bill introduced in the Kentucky Senate would legalize marijuana for adult use in the state and ban the use of state resources for the enforcement of some federal marijuana laws.
Sen. Dan Seum (R-Fairdale) introduced Senate Bill 80 (SB80) on Jan. 8. The legislation would legalize the possession and use of marijuana by persons 21-years-old or older. Under the proposed law, it would be legal to possess up to one ounce of marijuana in flower form, up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrate and up to 6 marijuana plants. SB80 would set up a licensing system for retail marijuana sales and cannabis cultivation in the state.
Language in the bill would prohibit state resources for the enforcement of federal marijuana laws that conflict with the state legalization.
No law enforcement officer may expend any state or local resources, including the officer’s time, on the sole basis of activity the officer believes to constitute a violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act, if the officer has reason to believe the activity is in compliance with this chapter. An officer shall not expend any state or local resources, including the officer’s time, to provide information or logistical support related to any federal law enforcement authority or prosecuting entity.
In December, Utah became the first state to expressly prohibit state and local police from enforcing some federal marijuana laws when it enacted its medical marijuana program. A bill banning resources for the enforcement of federal marijuana prohibition passed the California Assembly last session, but failed to move forward in the Senate. Supporters of the bill expect new legislation for 2019-20.
Seum, 77, has publicly admitted to smoking marijuana when he was undergoing cancer treatment. According to the AP, Seum was Diagnosed with cancer seven years ago. He said doctors gave him a “nice bottle of Oxycontin.”
“I threw it in the garbage can and went home and smoked a joint. And guess what? No nausea. I was able to function. I was going through the (chemo) treatment. It was during the legislative session, I did not miss a day due to nausea from the cancer.”
Despite the growing movement to legalize marijuana across the U.S., the feds maintain it is completely illegal.
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of marijuana. 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.
Passage of SB80 would remove a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition would remain in place.
FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, Kentucky could sweep part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual 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 either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance. On top of that, the provision barring state enforcement of federal laws would further hinder prohibition by denying state assistance the feds desperately need.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Kentucky could join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice.
Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. In 2018, Michigan voters approved recreational marijuana and Vermont became the first state to fully legalize marijuana through a legislative act.
With 33 states including allowing cannabis for medical use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.
“The lesson here is pretty straightforward. 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,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
At the time of this report, SB80 had not been referred to a Senate committee. Once it receives a committee assignment, it will need to pass by a majority vote before moving to the Senate floor.
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