Report 26, Thoughts on the Tenth Amendment


I am in a quandary. As a strong 10th Amendment supporter I definitely want to see the feds stay out of the business of the states. For instance, the feds have no business getting into the education systems of the states, even though they have injected themselves through the Department of Education. I have long believed that the Department of Education should be abolished. But that is not the topic of this post. My concern in this post is the issue of marijuana.

As a refresher:

10th Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, not prohibited by to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

There is nothing in the Constitution that says the feds have the power to control trade within the states and it has limited power to control trade between the states and that is limited to trade disputes. There is nothing that I can find in Article I Section 8 (the Commerce Clause) that defines what items the feds can control. Therefore, laws controlling drugs have questionable legitimacy.

This is where my quandary comes in. If the various state constitutions allow, drugs (including marijuana) should be made illegal for the protection of the citizens. As a strong anti-drug proponent, I believe this should be the case for all states. However I do not see the legitimacy of the feds getting involved in this issue. But, as it is illegal on a federal level at this time, the states have their hands tied unless they exert nullification. The problem here is that the Theory of Nullification has never been upheld in the courts. This is also a topic for another discussion.

During the reign of President Obama, the Justice Department has made the decision not to press the issue of illegal marijuana use and/or sale within the states. Possibly because of my admitted prejudice against the use of non-medical drugs (illegal drugs) I strenuously object to this cavalier ignoring of the law by the Justice Department.

Now with the pending presidency of President-Elect Trump, and his chosen Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, there is the real possibility of all state-legal pot shops being closed down and the proprietors and customers being charged with federal crimes. Getting marijuana off our streets, while unlikely, will go a long way in reducing crime. Since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado the crime rate has jumped significantly. This jump has been attributed to this legalization. Hardly a week goes by when we don’t hear about a pot shop being robbed. An Indonesian drug cartel was growing marijuana in commercial quantities in Colorado and transporting it to the southeast states. A combined operation between the feds and local law enforcement in September netted over 20,000 pounds of marijuana in Colorado bound for transport to Alabama, Georgia, and other southeastern states.

Legalization of marijuana, not only in Colorado, has not reduced the drug cartel presence as the proponents have promised but rather dramatically increased it. While I am a strong supporter of the 10th Amendment, the drug trade must be shut down whether by the feds or by the states. Does this put me in a hypocritical position? Possibly.

Possibly one solution would be to take marijuana fully into the medical realm. There is a growing body of evidence that marijuana has strong benefits for certain illnesses. I am certainly no medical professional and would not presume to get into that arena. But if marijuana were strictly controlled the same way real medical prescriptions are controlled this would be a start in the right direction.