Legalizing marijuana: The states' case
Think the federal marijuana ban dooms state legalization for medical — even recreational — use? Think again. States have a legal basis for allowing marijuana use that's solid enough to prevail in court.
So says Vanderbilt University law professor Robert A. Miklos in a new Cato Institute paper. He focuses on state-legalized medical marijuana but maintains his analysis also applies to Colorado and Washington-state voters' recent approval of recreational use.
“There are ... important limits to the doctrine of federal supremacy” rooted in Article VI of the Constitution, he writes. Those limits derive from the “anti-commandeering principle” enforced by the Supreme Court, which prohibits using “states as instruments of federal governance.”
Federal supremacy is straightforward when Congress legalizes private activity banned by states — but not when Congress bans conduct legalized by states, Mr. Miklos says. Those state laws remain in force because the anti-commandeering principle means Congress can't pre-empt states' inaction — in this instance, declining, via legalization, to enforce the federal marijuana ban.
There's no good reason for any government to ban marijuana, which causes demonstrably less harm than legal alcohol and tobacco; rather, it's marijuana prohibition that's harmful — to otherwise law-abiding citizens and to taxpayers. Kudos to Miklos for outlining a robust legal basis for states to keep America moving toward the outright legalization that must occur.
And we hope Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and the Republican-controlled state Legislature, each on the wrong side of this argument, take note.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.