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Presidency

Franck Stones Obama Pot Policy

Matt Franck takes a whack not only at Obama's decriminalization policy but at some conservative defenders of it who see a respect for federalism: 

By announcing the non-prosecution of marijuana cases only in those 14 states that legalize some use of the drug for medical purposes, the administration has effectively proclaimed that federal law means one thing in those 14 states, and something else in the other 36.  That could readily give rise to equal protection claims in the 36 states where the federal government still considers itself free to prosecute.

Moreover:  "Worse, by conditioning the prospect of prosecution on the presence or absence of state laws that contradict a nationwide federal prohibition, the Justice Department has effectively subjected the validity of federal law to the will of state legislators."  As a prelude to relaxing drug prosecution generally, "This way evinces Professor Obama's usual respect for the Constitution: he rolls his own."

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Discussions - 8 Comments

Well, I don't think any of us need to start hyperventilating about the prospects for a diminished role for federal legislation in our society. There's a great deal to be said about the idiocy of what Obama is doing on this issue, but that it slights existing federal law is not one of those concerns at the forefront.

We are a society where power is increasingly centralizing in Washington, not decentralizing to the several states. And that's notwithstanding the behavior of this administration on the issue at bar.

"By announcing the non-prosecution of marijuana cases only in those 14 states that legalize some use of the drug for medical purposes, the administration has effectively proclaimed that federal law means one thing in those 14 states, and something else in the other 36."
Uhh, that's what federalism is all about, you know.

Maybe this has something to do with getting discussion rolling leading up to McDonald v. Chicago. If the second ammendment doesn't apply to the states, why should drug laws?

the economy needs this and other recreational drugs to stay illegal. keeps the value of them up and prison system full. Obama will never decriminalize anything.

A full prison system is expensive and a drag on the economy. How do you figure it is good for the economy?

To appease a large block of the Democratic Party over some issue like the two wars, they may just legalize marijuana altogether. If you see a staedy stream of experts on TV claiming that marijuana is better for you than alcohol, hearings before Congress will be right around the corner and legalization will comeright after. The illegal drug sector of the economy will have plenty of the market, still, because the legal stuff will be taxed heavily and/or be sold at state stores alongside liquor.

If my classrooms are any indication of the young population, it is only the form of legalization that is arguable in their generation.

Uh, no, that's what the nullification doctrine is all about. See Madison, James, denunciation thereof.

Kate said, "A full prison system is expensive and a drag on the economy. How do you figure it is good for the economy?"

Kate, if you've got enough "law-and-order," Constitution-be-damned judges working to fill prisons, it can be pretty profitable, at least for the judge. A judge like this one:

http://post-gazette.com/pg/09303/1009500-100.stm

But if you've got a privatized prison system, I think it's pretty obvious how a full prison system can be profitable.

But by and large we do not have privatized state prison systems and even if we did, why would we assume that this situation you point out would be the norm?

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