Saturday, January 13, 2018

Trump Administration Reverses Obama's Marijuana Policy

By Douglas V. Gibbs

The Marijuana issue is an interesting one for me, because while I am in agreement that the recreational use of pot should be illegal, and I believe the renegade States legalizing weed are making a huge mistake, the federal government technically has no authority over drugs.  In other words, any authority to regulate drugs is not expressly enumerated in the United States Constitution, so it is a State issue.

Meanwhile, the federal government under President Donald Trump is doing what it can to give federal prosecutors the discretion to prosecute marijuana traffickers.

While the commerce clause comes to mind, in truth the federal government can only get involved in interstate commerce if a dispute between the States arises.

Nonetheless, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has revoked the Cole Memo, a 2014 Justice Department directive issued by then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole giving marijuana producers and distributors in States that had legalized the drug immunity for violating federal drug laws - that are, mind you, technically not constitutional.

Sessions has taken the issue into full federal custody, giving the 94 U.S. attorneys all over the country clear guidance for deciding when to prosecute those who violate federal law prohibiting marijuana cultivation and distribution.

The issue has been explosive.  Today's pot is more potent, and States like Colorado that have legalized marijuana use have seen huge increases in marijuana-related traffic accidents and fatalities as well as accidental poisonings of both children and pets. Pot use by underage persons, who are most vulnerable to its damaging effects, has also greatly increased, as have school suspensions and expulsions for pot use.

The epidemic is out of control, and the Democrats want to fuel it - yet, I have to recognize that while I appreciate the Trump administration's desire to protect our society from the damaging policies of the Democrats regarding marijuana, the truth is, technically they don't have the constitutional authority.

What the Trump administration is up to is not to go after the average pot smoker.  The federal government doesn't have time or resources to prosecute misdemeanors. The targets are large-scale manufacturers and distributors.

As States like California and Colorado claim that the legalization of marijuana will bring in much needed tax revenue, neighboring States like Nebraska and Oklahoma have complained that Colorado’s legalization has increased trafficking into their States, and poison downstream in their environment..

From the Trump administration's point of view, drug laws are in place, and the attorney general can't simply refuse to enforce a law, like the Holder/Lynch Justice Department did.

From a policy standpoint, the Trump administration sees the legalization of marijuana not as a local issue, but as a problem that influences a national market, making it a national, not just a local, problem in the eyes of Sessions and gang.

It's going to get interesting.  When the Trump administration begins to get frisky in their attempt to deal with the marijuana problem in States who have legalized the drug, I am wondering if the State autonomy argument will rise up.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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