Thursday, November 22, 2012

The joint that broke the camel's back

So, Eric Holder, what's the big deal about Colorado and Washington voting to legalize marijuana? Why should it matter that two states decided the benefits of the war on drugs wasn't worth the cost? Maybe you're worried that some other states will come to the conclusion that it doesn't make sense to waste public resources arresting, jailing and trying cases involving an ounce or two of the chronic.

The bigger question, however, is why the federal government is involved in the prosecution of marijuana cases at all. Up until last week, all 50 states had laws on their books making it a crime to possess marijuana. Why were los federales even involved in pot cases? It would seem that the states had it under control.

As I've stated many times before, the only federal crime specified in the Constitution is treason. According to the 10th Amendment, everything else was left up to the states.That's what the conservatives have been screaming for years.

Then how come no one questions why the federal government prosecutes drug cases?

If two states are tired of the time and money spent on pot prosecutions, so be it. I thought the beauty of federalism is that there are 50 little laboratories out there that can test various ideas and programs. Why not let a couple of states try out decriminalizing marijuana? Why not step back and see what happens?

The worst case scenario is more people start passing the bong around the room. Well, Mr. Holder, I've got news for you. Kids are still smoking pot in high school and college and it's been illegal for generations. Anyone who wants to buy any weed can easily find a seller.

The best case scenario is Colorado and Washington save money that would have been spent arresting, jailing and trying folks who were dumb enough to get caught with marijuana (and here's my tip for the day -- smoke the chronic at home and don't carry it in your car, trust me on this). Maybe the states realize some additional tax revenue as a result. Maybe you'd even see a drop off in some violent crime since the distribution of marijuana would be regulated.

And, if these benefits are realized, maybe other states would take a look and begin to question their own laws regarding marijuana. For some states, legalizing it might be the way to go while, for others, reducing possession of small amounts of marijuana to the level of a traffic ticket might work.

Maybe Mr. Holder's real fear is that the actions in Colorado and Washington might lead folks to question why there are so many federal crimes that duplicate the laws on the books in the 50 states. Maybe he's afraid there might be some movement to pare down the list of federal crimes. Or maybe it's because those in power are unwilling to cede any of the authority they've grabbed over the years.

So, Eric, which is it?

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