By: Ryan Pettigrew
Colorado and Washington have waited anxiously for the Federal government’s response to their legalizing of marijuana for months and finally got their answer. Eric Holder contacted the governors from both states last Thursday to let them know that they would allow the states to set up their systems to regulate the marijuana industry for their respective states and there wouldn’t be any lawsuits to prevent them from legalizing. A memorandum was also released to U.S. attorneys by Deputy Attorney General James Cole that I feel needs to be addressed.
First off, this is an example of state rights versus federal power; where the latter has been abused for as long as I can remember. The will of the people has been implemented in both states and the federal government needs to understand its place. Its duty is to serve the public rather than act as our rulers and to only prohibit force rather than control personal decisions.
Mr. Cole’s first error is in assuming that the legalizations could pose a threat “…to public safety, public health and other law enforcement interests.” Prohibition creates a Black Market which has violence attached to it, as criminal organizations can’t survive without illegal products to peddle. Fewer people act violently on marijuana in comparison to those on alcohol and the former causes less health problems than the latter. No one has died from a marijuana overdose and it’s an individual’s choice whether or not to use it; where every decision has consequences that the government wasn’t created to protect us from. Chemicals in our food and drinking water pose a more serious threat to public health than marijuana and public safety increases with decreasing Black Market activity so legalization doesn’t threaten public safety or health.
One of the eight federal priorities Cole outlines for federal prosecutors is prosecuting those who exacerbate “…other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use,” which can be arbitrarily interpreted as a prosecutor sees fit. It’s vague language such as this that allows for the government to act as it chooses, violating individual rights and punishing according to agenda rather than setting clear policy that makes actions black or white. What’s the legal definition for “adverse public health consequences” so one doesn’t violate the law? Without that being clarified, such a punishment violates the 14th Amendment.
Educating ourselves on the issues prevents governmental manipulation, which is vital in a republic such as ours. Smoke screens and misinformation distract from real issues and takes away from the purpose of voting. Colorado and Washington are leading the charge in ending irrational and ineffective prohibitions that waste tax payer dollars; while the Department of Justice’s refusal to oppose the legalization is a good first step but the goal is to push them out of our personal business altogether. Support the movement and oppose tyranny like a true patriot whether or not you personally use marijuana because the issue is how much power we choose to give government rather than whether we agree with marijuana use.