The Feds, the States, and the Controlled Substances Act

The Feds, the States and the Controlled Substances Act

How exactly is Colorado undermining federal law? Nothing requires a state to make marijuana illegal.

Wall Street Journal

Maryland, under Gov. Albert Ritchie, steadfastly refused to prohibit alcohol sales throughout Prohibition, and Al Smith’s New York repealed its prohibition laws in 1926 notwithstanding the reference in the 18th Amendment to concurrent enforcement.

The fact that Colorado burdens marijuana sales through regulation and taxation instead of simply repealing its laws scarcely creates a greater conflict with federal policy, let alone one about which other states can complain.

The Controlled Substances Act does not permanently “list marijuana as a Schedule I drug, and thus illegal.” The Schedule is required to be updated annually and in its present form is the work of President Obama’s administrators, not of Congress. Rationally, marijuana should be classified like Valium; its users would then receive the cautionary advice of doctors, standardization and quality control, and liberation from the underworld.

In his lectures on the Supreme Court published in 1955, Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson observed: “I cannot say that our country could have no central police without becoming totalitarian, but I can say with great conviction that it cannot become totalitarian without a centralized national police. . . . All that is necessary is to have a centralized national police competent to investigate all manner of offenses and then, in the parlance of the street, it will have enough on enough people, even if it does not elect to prosecute them, so that it will find no opposition to its policies. Even those who are supposed to supervise it are likely to fear it. I believe that the safeguard of our liberty lies in limiting any policing or investigative organization, first of all to a small number of strictly federal offenses and secondly to nonpolitical ones.”

George W. Liebmann


Posted in: Culture Wars, Drugs, Judiciary and Legal Issues, State and Local Politics, Urban Affairs, Welfare and Other Social

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