An Unnecessary Bill

Oklahoma voters last month, during a midterm primary election, approved a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana. The measure, which passed by a vote of 57 to 43 percent, will allow doctors to recommend cannabis to treat any medical condition they see fit. Most other states that have legalized medical marijuana only provide a list of diseases and disorders for which physicians can authorize a cannabis treatment.

The ballot title reads as follows:

This measure amends the Oklahoma State Statutes. A yes vote legalizes the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma for medicinal purposes. A license is required for use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes and must be approved by an Oklahoma Board Certified Physician. The State Department of Health will issue medical marijuana licenses if the applicant is eighteen years or older and an Oklahoma resident. A special exception will be granted to an applicant under the age of eighteen, however these applications must be signed by two physicians and a parent or legal guardian. The Department will also issue seller, grower, packaging, transportation, research and caregiver licenses. Individual and retail businesses must meet minimal requirements to be licensed to sell marijuana to licensees. The punishment for unlicensed possession of permitted amounts of marijuana for individuals who can state a medical condition is a fine not exceeding four hundred dollars. Fees and zoning restrictions are established. A seven percent state tax is imposed on medical marijuana sales.

The Free Society Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $12.00 Buy New $19.95 (as of 10:45 EST - Details) According to section 1D of the new law “to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 420 of Title 63,” a person in possession of a state-issued medical marijuana license shall be able to:

  1. Consume marijuana legally;
  2. Legally possess up to three (3) ounces of marijuana on their person;
  3. Legally possess six (6) mature marijuana plants;
  4. Legally possess six (6) seedling plants;
  5. Legally possess one (1) ounce of concentrated marijuana;
  6. Legally possess seventy-two (72) ounces of edible marijuana; and
  7. Legally possess up to eight (8) ounces of marijuana in their residence.

In addition to Oklahoma, 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use. Recreational marijuana is legal in 8 states and the District of Columbia. The possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

Yet, the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act, with a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medial use, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. Under federal law, possession of marijuana is punishable by up to a year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first conviction, with increasing penalties for subsequent convictions.

Some members of Congress have just introduced a bill to remedy this, but it is an unnecessary bill that should never need to be introduced.

The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act (S.3032) was introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). It would ensure that states could make and enforce their own marijuana laws as long as they comply with some federal rules. The bill currently has nine cosponsors, including Rand Paul (R-Ken.). A companion bill (H.R.6043) was also introduced in the House. Similar bills were introduced last year.

Said Senator Warren:

Outdated federal marijuana laws have perpetuated our broken criminal justice system, created barriers to research, and hindered economic development. States like Massachusetts have put a lot of work into implementing common sense marijuana regulations—and they have the right to enforce their own marijuana policies. The federal government needs to get out of the business of outlawing marijuana.

I will go further than Senator Warren. Outdated federal marijuana laws have destroyed financial privacy, violated personal privacy, clogged the judicial system, unnecessarily swelled prison populations, fostered violence, corrupted law enforcement, taken finite law-enforcement resources away from fighting real crime, militarized the local police, increased asset forfeiture abuse, resulted in ridiculous sting operations, hindered legitimate pain management, unreasonably inconvenience retail shopping, eroded civil liberties, made criminals out of mostly otherwise law-abiding Americans, and increased the size and scope of government.

Although the STATES Act is a needed bill, it is an unnecessary bill. Free Trade or Protecti... Laurence M. Vance Buy New $3.04 (as of 10:45 EST - Details)

It is unnecessary because the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to have anything to do with marijuana or any other drug.

It is unnecessary because the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to have a drug czar.

It is unnecessary because the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to classify drugs on a schedule.

It is unnecessary because the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to have a Drug Enforcement Agency.

It is unnecessary because the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to ban any substance.

It is unnecessary because the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to concern itself with the medical treatment of any American.

It is unnecessary because the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to demonize a plant.

It is unnecessary because the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to have an Office of National Drug Control Policy.

It is unnecessary because the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to regulate the recreational activities of any American.

It is unnecessary because the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to intrude itself into the eating, drinking, or smoking habits of any American.

It is unnecessary because the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to stamp out vice.

It is unnecessary because the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to concern itself with the nature and quantity of any substance Americans want to consume.

It is unnecessary because “the powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined” and “those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite,” as James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45.

It is only necessary because the “federal” government has repudiated the federal system of government established by the Founders. If the federal government merely followed its own Constitution, then bills like the STATES Act would never need to be introduced.