Washington State and Colorado, of course, legalized recreational marijuana usage by popular vote on November 6, in a move that many have called "historic." Clearly, the signing of these laws actually was outside of the authority of the state governors who signed them. Federal law does not allow recreational marijuana usage, and state laws are not allow to preempt federal laws. However, on this issue, the left is remaining very quiet. I saw a portion of an interview with former attorney general Alberto Gonzales about possible actions that the Administration can take as a result of the passage of these laws. Gonzales said that basically the government has three options:
Maybe. Maybe not. Having two states pass laws legalizing drugs really is a clear affront to federal authority. As it turns out, Colorado and Washington's new laws violate not only federal law, but international United Nations' treaties--the 1961 International Convention on Narcotic Drugs outlaws marijuana and other drugs. That treaty is supported by two other treaties—the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Drugs and the 1988 Anti-Trafficking Convention. Whether the Obama Administration privately agrees with these state laws is not the point; the point is that by refusing to take any action on these laws, the Administration is sending a message that in some cases, at least, state laws can preempt federal laws and even international treaties. In speaking out against the Michigan law, the President and his Administration are interjecting themselves into a matter that is clearly the state's to decide. In refusing to stand up against legalized marijuana--if that is ultimately the case--the President and the Administration are conceding authority that the federal government actually does have to enforce laws. The only legal way around this is to back federal bills to legalize drugs nationally. Any such legislation would undoubtedly prove extremely contentious and difficult to pass in a government as gridlocked as this one.
Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net.