I have rarely praised President Obama or even agreed with his policies. This is not because of a knee-jerk partisan reaction, but rather because of genuine economic and philosophical opposition to nearly every policy enacted and/or championed by this administration.
As I dont hesitate to criticize the President’s bad policies, I must also praise those that I do agree with. This week, President Obama announced this week that his administration will no longer prosecute violators of federal marijuana policy unless they are violating federal as well as State laws.
This is a big step in the right direction. For decades now, the federal government has perpetuated a “war on drugs.” This war has criminalized substances and by this action has created a new class of criminals. It has forced the production, distribution, and use of these substances underground, contributing greatly to the rise in gang violence throughout the nation. This war has led to the arrest of millions of Americans, violating their individual liberties and often their property rights in the process. This war has shattered families. Finally, this war has cost billions directly (through increased policing and incarceration costs), as well as indirectly (by incarcerating members of society and therefore removing their productive capabilities).
Many States now allow the use and sale of marijuana for medical purposes. It is simply morally wrong for the government to outlaw any substance which has the potential to ease the pain and suffering of people with chronic illnesses including cancer.
I am pleased that President Obama is following the 10th Amendment on this issue. The 10th Amendment reads as follows: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” There is absolutely no provision in the US Constitution which gives the federal government the power to regulate drugs, meaning that control over this issue rests with individuals or the States. President Obama has decided not to uphold an unconstitutional law. I support this.
However, I would urge President Obama to reread the 10th Amendment, and then take further action. Rather than not enforcing federal law, President Obama should immediately call for the repeal of all federal laws involving the using, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana within one’s own State. These laws are unconstitutional and violate the spirit, as well as the letter of the Constitution.
Furthermore, President Obama should repeal all federal drug laws involving the using, cultivation, or distribution of any drug within one’s own State. Let the people decide what should be allowed in their own areas. A national one size fits all policy for drugs is not only unconstitutional, but it also violates the rights of individuals and communities to decide what is appropriate for themselves.
Additionally, it appears that there may be some confusion about the President’s new policy. Just yesterday, the DEA arrested 18 Americans in California for violating federal laws regarding the cultivation of marijuana. I know that the President’s policy was just announced this week, but this arrest seems to be in violation of this new policy. Federal laws regarding marijuana must be repealed if this type of confusion is to be avoided in the future.
I also urge the President to use his pardoning power to grant full pardons to anyone who has been arrested and incarcerated for violating the laws that he is no longer enforcing. I would also urge him to go further and pardon all people who have been arrested under federal laws for any drug crime which was non violent and did not involve selling these substances to minors.
Finally, I must once again praise President Obama for adhering to the 10th Amendment of the Constitution on this issue. However, I must urge him to respect and follow the Constitution and the 10th Amendment on more issues in the future. It is unreasonable for President Obama to respect the legally defined distinction between State and federal powers on this issue while ignoring them on a slew of other issues.
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