Editorial; Marijuana nullification?

March 22, 2016

 

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up a challenge to Colorado’s voter-approved law legalizing recreational marijuana, but the legal question the case raises can’t be ignored indefinitely. The question is as old as the republic: How far can states go in substituting their own laws for those of the federal government? The issue of marijuana raises that question now. In the past it has been raised by the issues of tariffs, slavery and desegregation, and in the future it could come up in relation to anything from abortion to immigration.

The states of Nebraska and Oklahoma asked the court to overturn Colorado’s four-year-old law, claiming that it imposed costs on their law-enforcement systems. The lawsuit described the emergence of a $100 million marijuana industry in a neighboring state, and argued that “If this entity were based south of our border, the federal government would prosecute it as a drug cartel.”

Instead, the federal government has turned a nearsighted, if not quite blind, eye toward Colorado’s law, along with similar laws in Oregon, Alaska, Washington state and the District of Columbia. The federal government also has largely looked away from the more narrow laws in 22 states legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is categorized as a drug whose possession and use is prohibited under all circumstances.

The federal classification of marijuana is foolish, destructive and should be changed — but it’s still the law, and like other laws, foolish or wise, it is meant to be obeyed. Yet the U.S. Justice Department has told prosecutors to ignore state legalization laws, as long as marijuana possession, use and sale remain within a set of guidelines. Federal authorities will step in, for instance, to prevent interstate commerce in marijuana, or to keep the drug out of the hands of children. Within those guidelines, just about anything goes, as Oregonians can see from the proliferation of pot products and retailers.

The Justice Department’s permissive approach avoids a confrontation over the limits of state and federal authority. Such confrontations have occurred in the past. The friction goes back to the nation’s founding, when it was the states, not a federal government, that dissolved the colonies’ ties to the British crown and ratified the U.S. Constitution. In the early 19th century, advocates of state supremacy argued that states have the right to secede in response to what they perceived as federal overreach — a position that led to the Civil War. Figures ranging from John Calhoun to George Wallace have advanced variants of that idea, claiming that states have the power to nullify federal laws with which they disagree.

Advocates of marijuana legalization have not argued for nullification. So far the Justice Department, and now the Supreme Court, have sidestepped the question of whether nullification has occurred. But marijuana legalization laws such as Oregon’s can’t be squared with the federal Controlled Substances Act, and as a practical matter, the state laws have been allowed to prevail. Someone, somewhere, is bound to point to this as establishing a precedent for states’ right to set aside other federal laws.

If Oregon can legalize marijuana in defiance of federal law, why can’t other states make their own rules regarding health care, the environment or civil rights? It’s regrettable that the Supreme Court decided against hearing a case that raised such questions, because they are inherent in any state law legalizing marijuana — and, perhaps soon, in other state laws that openly conflict with federal law.

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Oklahoma and Nebraska Marijuana Sales in Colorado are Against Foreign Laws, So Stop it!

By: Hrafnkell Haraldsson more from Hrafnkell Haraldsson

Saturday, December, 20th, 2014, 8:32 am

Colorados-Recreational-Marijuana-Task-Force

It is interesting how Republicans are all state’s rights and big government keep your hands off – until a state does something they don’t like. Like Colorado’s marijuana law, which is one of four states to allow regulated production and sale of marijuana to adults.

Nebraska and Oklahoma – both red states – don’t like that. And they want the Supreme Court to do something about it. Whatever happened to the Tenth Amendment? What ever happened to that oppressive federal government meddling where it doesn’t belong?

Throw all that out the window and drive the bus over it.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt say pot is crossing the state line (their state lines) and that their states are suffering “irreparable injury.” They are suing Colorado.

In other words, they have to spend time arresting people for something that’s legal in another state. They say Sections 16(4) and (5) of Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution (the supremacy clause of the Constitution) don’t stand up before federal law –

Wait! They said that? Hold on now…Gosh, I wonder how they’d feel if we were talking about guns instead of marijuana, or the First Amendment?

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said,

[I]t appears the plantiffs’ primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana, as opposed to choices made by the voters of Colorado. We believe this suit is without merit and we will vigorously defend against it in the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Keep in mind that what pot proponents have been saying all along happened – the state made some $60 million of sales of cannabis, and that what opponents said would happen didn’t happen – in other words, everyone woke up to the same world they had known the day before. Nary a catastrophe to be seen then and none on the horizon now.

It is incredible that the party that talks endlessly about majorities rule suddenly cease to care about majorities at times like this. Some 55 percent of Colorado voters approved Amendment 64’s legalization of the sale of marijuana. Shouldn’t that be good enough?

Not to mention the extremely lax ideology of the GOP. Everything is black and white on the surface, but the second anything happens they don’t like, their morals go topsy-turvy. As Bloomberg points out in this case:

The lawsuit, readable here, is a little shot of cognitive dissonance for anyone who listens to conservative Republicans on other matters. First, most jarringly, it cites America’s agreements with foreign nations as a reason that Colorado’s law can’t stand.

“Through its exclusive Constitutional power to conduct foreign policy,” argue the plaintiffs, “the United States is a party to international treaties and conventions under which it has agreed to control trafficking in drugs and psychotropic substances, such as marijuana.”

Hold on a second! This is the party constantly telling us that we are being enslaved by globalization, that International law is a threat to our sacred constitutional freedoms. And now you’re saying foreign laws trump the rights of American citizens?

The Republican Party might do well to decide what exactly it is for and against. Do states rights triumph? Does federal law triumph? Do foreign laws matter when it comes to U.S. law?

They can’t apply it on a case by case basis, appealing to whichever is more convenient at the moment. This is the party opposed to relativism, and right now, it seems to have a much bigger problem with relativism than Democrats.

Image from The Joint Blog

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Mummy Proves America Is 2,400 Years Behind On Medical Marijuana

mummyemebed

Photo: Via Wikimedia Commons.

A 2,400-year-old “Siberian Ice Maiden” apparently knew something that not all US lawmakers do: Cannabis is a perfect palliative for cancer.
Discovered in 1993 by archaeologist Natalia Polosmak, the mummified remains of this woman, also known as the “Princess of Ukok,” were recently examined by a team of Russian scientists. They found that the woman, who was heavily tattooed and died when she was between 20 and 30 years old, suffered from and ultimately succumbed to breast cancer.
“‘I am quite sure of the diagnosis — she had cancer,” one of the scientists told the Siberian Times. “She was extremely emaciated. Given her rather high rank in society and the information scientists obtained studying mummies of elite Pazyryks, I do not have any other explanation of her state. Only cancer could have such an impact.”
The researchers also believe that the woman used cannabis to treat herself. A container of the herb was found in her burial chamber, along with a “cosmetics bag.”
“Probably for this sick woman, sniffing cannabis was a forced necessity,” another scientist said, noting that wine, hashish, opium, henbane, mandrake, aconite, and Indian hemp were all used at the time as painkillers. “And she was often in altered state of mind. We can suggest that through her could speak the ancestral spirits and gods. Her ecstatic visions in all likelihood allowed her to be considered as some chosen being, necessary and crucial for the benefit of society. She can be seen as the darling of spirits and cherished until her last breath.”
Hey, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania: Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. (Siberian Times)

U.S. Supreme Court sides with Oklahoma in water case

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Texas state agency has no right to reach into Oklahoma for a share of water.

By Chris Casteel Modified: June 13, 2013 at 10:19 pm • Published: June 13, 2013

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WASHINGTON — Oklahoma won a major victory Thursday in defense of the state’s water supply, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Texas can’t reach across the border to claim a share of the Kiamichi River.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the decision protected Oklahoma’s right to manage its water for generations to come, though the state is still in negotiations with the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes about water rights in southeastern Oklahoma.

The high court’s decision ended a six-year legal battle with the Tarrant Regional Water District, a Texas state agency that claimed a water compact among Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana gave Texas the right to reach into Oklahoma to get its share of allotted water.

The Red River Compact — approved by Congress in 1980 — gives each of the four states an equal share of excess water from the Kiamichi River. But the compact doesn’t explicitly say whether one state can cross a border without permission to get its share.

The decision

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed with Oklahoma’s position — which was supported in the case by Arkansas and Louisiana — that the compact would have spelled out the terms if cross-border access was permitted.

“Many compacts feature unambiguous language permitting signatory States to cross each other’s borders to fulfill obligations under the compacts, and many provide for the terms and mechanics of how such relationships will operate,” the opinion written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor says.

“The absence of comparable provisions in the Red River Compact strongly suggests that cross-border rights were never intended to be part of the agreement.”

Moreover, the court held that states rarely relinquish their sovereign powers. If Oklahoma had intended to give up its rights to the water within its borders, there would have been a clear indication in the compact, “not inscrutable silence,” the court held.

The court also noted that the Texas agency waited a long time after the compact’s approval to claim the right to get water in Oklahoma.

“Once the Compact was approved in 1980, no signatory State pressed for a cross-border diversion until Tarrant filed suit in 2007,” the court opinion states.

“And Tarrant’s earlier offer to purchase water from Oklahoma was a strange decision if Tarrant believed the Compact entitled it to demand water without payment.”

The Supreme Court also held Thursday that Oklahoma’s laws allocating water — and essentially barring out-of-state sales — do not violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Texas agency pursued the case to the U.S. Supreme Court after losing in federal district court and the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Pruitt, whose office represented the state, said the decision “affirmed Oklahoma sovereignty over our water.

“It’s important that we in the state of Oklahoma have the ability to manage our water and not be forced to give water to Texas and that’s what Tarrant County sought. It will impact generations to come, and the flexibility and latitude that Oklahoma needs to manage its water resources has been confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Jim Oliver, general manager of the Tarrant Regional Water District, said Thursday, “Obviously, we are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision.

“Securing additional water resources is essential to North Texas’ continued growth and prosperity and will remain one of our top priorities. … The decision does not address the problem of Oklahoma’s lack of water infrastructure, and we believe solutions that benefit both Texas and Oklahoma still exist.”

Oklahoma City’s city manager Jim Couch hailed the decision. In a brief filed in the case, Oklahoma City argued that southeastern Oklahoma water is a critical component of the city’s municipal water supply.

Oklahoma City has long-standing permits for water from the Kiamichi and Muddy Boggy rivers. The water is pumped from southeast Oklahoma through the 50-year-old Atoka pipeline. An application for more water from the Kiamichi would provide nearly enough to meet city needs for 2060, as projected in a 2009 study. That application is tied up in the lawsuit by the tribes.

Red River rivalries

The Supreme Court last year refused to wade into a separate water dispute in Oklahoma, effectively upholding an appeals court ruling that the Oklahoma town of Hugo couldn’t sell water to Irving, Texas, without the state’s permission.

The U.S. Justice Department urged the high court to take the Texas challenge and sided with the Tarrant district on the key point of whether Texas could cross the border to fulfill its share under the compact.

The high court’s opinion Thursday gave a brief history of Red River rivalries between Oklahoma and Texas, mentioning “the famed college football rivalry between the Longhorns of Texas and the Sooners of Oklahoma” and the mobilization of state militias during the Red River Bridge War in 1931.

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