Thursday, January 11, 2018

What has Jeff Sessions been smoking?

Why does the US government even care about marijuana? Every state in the country has its own laws regarding hippie lettuce - there is no need for the federal government to be involved.

Hasn't anyone in Washington ever heard of the 10th Amendment? Hasn't anyone learned about the concept of federalism?

Jeff Sessions is just the latest Republican officeholder to cast federalism aside when it doesn't suit his needs. His recent decision to reverse the Obama-era hands-off policy with regard to cannabis shows just how out of touch old, white wingnuts are - and just how hypocritical they are.

Voters in states across the country have decided that the existing chronic laws make little or no sense. There is a growing understanding that the happy grass is more akin to alcohol - a perfectly legal drug - than it is to cocaine and other narcotics. Many local jurisdictions have taken steps to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of weed by offering pretrial diversions or treating the offense like a traffic ticket.

As an aside, part of this change in attitude toward wacky tobacky has to do with the fact that the majority of users are white. And when upper income white folks find themselves inconvenienced in their indulgences, well, that's a problem.

Regardless of one's feelings about bud, I would hope that we could agree that there is no need for los federales to be involved in most drug prosecutions. States have laws governing the use and possession of various narcotics and illegal drugs. There is no need for the federal government to stick its nose in state criminal matters. It makes a whole lot more sense for these cases to be prosecuted in local jurisdictions.

But, as I have pointed out on countless occasions, the familiar conservative call for limited government generally only considers those circumstances when the government has issued regulations for the protection of workers or the environment. Conservatives, by and large, have been fine with the intrusion of the government into matters involving individuals.

One interesting unintended consequence of Mr. Sessions' desire to turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals may be a larger push to not just decriminalize pot, but to legalize it instead. Already 29 states, comprising about 60% of the US population, have legalized marijuana in some form or another. Eight states have legalized the personal possession of grass.

There will be a backlash to Mr. Sessions' attempts to re-impose prohibition on the 420. There are plenty of Republican lawmakers at the state and national level who have come out in opposition to this new direction. Jeff Sessions is fighting a rear-guard action he can't win. He can only hope not to step in it too deeply.

See also: "Jeff Sessions helps the cause of legalizing pot," Chicago Tribune (1/10/18)

1 comment:

Lee said...

We tried prohibition with alcohol a century ago...We enjoy history so much that we are doomed to repeat our history all over again?