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Democrat States Use Nullification to End War on Marijuana

cannabisThis article comes from

by Alex Newman

Voters in at least four states decided to nullify unconstitutional federal statutes and United Nations drug-control treaties by officially ending marijuana prohibition, a major victory for the U.S. Constitution and the 10th Amendment. Three states — California, Massachusetts, and Nevada — completely legalized marijuana, even for recreational use by adults. By press time, it appeared that Maine’s initiative to do the same was on its way to being successful. In Arizona, where conservative nullification efforts on other issues have been popular, voters narrowly decided to keep pot prohibition in place. Still, regardless of one’s views on cannabis, states’ rights scored a string of impressive successes this week.

In Florida, voters overwhelmingly amended the state Constitution to end prohibition of medical marijuana for patients suffering from certain ailments. Recreational pot possession remains illegal. Joining Florida were Arkansas and North Dakota, two reliably conservative states where voters also decided to nullify federal and UN schemes by ending the criminalization of the controversial plant when used under doctors’ orders. Montana voters decided to further liberalize that state’s medical marijuana laws. Over half of American states have now in practice nullified unconstitutional federal cannabis policy, which generally prohibits the plant even for medicinal purposes.

In the successful referenda on cannabis this week, the states’ decisions to buck the U.S. government and the UN all rely — whether knowingly or not — on a proper constitutional tool known as “nullification.” Essentially, nullification is a time-tested legal strategy to check unconstitutional federal statutes and policies at the state level. It was promoted by some of America’s most prominent Founders, such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, two of the men responsible for the nation’s founding documents.

The idea behind nullification is simple: Under the U.S. Constitution, the federal government was delegated a few defined powers by the states. Prohibiting substances was not among those powers, hence the need for a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol. Ratifying UN treaties, whether on drugs or anything else, does not grant new powers to the federal government, as even the Supreme Court has made clear. As such, states have an obligation to interpose on behalf of their citizens by rejecting unconstitutional power grabs. In the past, numerous states have relied on similar strategies, including Wisconsin, which refused to return run-away slaves under the Fugitive Slave Act.

Under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, state governments and the people explicitly reserved all powers not specifically granted to the feds under the U.S. Constitution. Because drug policy is not constitutionally a federal power, states and the people retained all power in this field — unconstitutional federal statutes, regulations, and UN treaties notwithstanding. A constitutional amendment would be needed to legally change that. Regardless of one’s own feelings about marijuana, then, conservatives and constitutionalists concerned about federal lawlessness in other areas — everything from healthcare and environmental policy to gun control and abortion — should take a lesson.

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Shorty Dawkins



  1. Jury Nullification to Fight Victimless Crimes

    To combat this, activists have taken steps to inform jurors of their right to vote “not guilty,” even in cases where the defendant has clearly run afoul of the law, thereby nullifying an unjust law. In New Hampshire in particular, jury rights activists informed over 3,000 jurors of their right to nullify last year.

  2. What is often overlooked in the nullification process is the role of “the people” as enumerated in the 9th and 10th amendment. Certainly jury nullification is one such manifestation of this. Equally as important is the ability to not comply with unconstitutional laws. A good example of this massive non compliance that brought down the military draft. It ran afoul of the 4th and 13th amendments and became unenforceable when the federal government could no longer muster the personnel , will or the budget to do so.

  3. But, by using marijuana in your state legally, you are in effect, forfeiting your right to purchase a firearm. Marijuana is still illegal under federal statute and the question on the form to purchase a gun ask if you about your drug use. If you indicate on this form that you do not use illegal drugs (because they are not illegal in your state) you just lied on a federal form. Just sayin.

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