cannabis

Having legalized recreational cannabis in its historic 2016 ballot initiative, the most populous U.S. state is not done challenging federal prohibition. California lawmakers have passed a bill that would prohibit cops in the state from helping the feds carry out their war on people and the cannabis plant.

Perhaps inspired by Colorado’s similar move, the California Assembly passed Bill 1578 by a thin margin, which now moves to the Senate for consideration before going to the governor’s desk.

The bill would prohibit state and local agencies from using “money, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to assist a federal agency to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest a person for commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity that is authorized by law in the State of California.”

Agencies also would be barred from responding to requests “made by a federal agency for personal information about an individual who is authorized to possess, cultivate, transport, manufacture, sell, or possess for sale marijuana or marijuana products or medical cannabis or medical cannabis products, if that request is made for the purpose of investigating or enforcing federal marijuana law.”

Agencies also could not “Transfer an individual to federal law enforcement authorities for purposes of marijuana enforcement or detain an individual at the request of federal law enforcement for conduct that is legal under state law.”

California’s move to protect its citizens from the injustice of federal prohibition takes on even greater urgency with rabid drug warrior Jeff Session as Attorney General, under President Trump, who declared that he reserves the right to crack down on states with medical and recreational cannabis laws.

As the Tenth Amendment Center points out, there is strong legal precedent in withdrawing state and local enforcement of federal law under the ‘anti-commandeering doctrine.’ Four U.S. Supreme Court cases, dating back to 1842, provide sound support for the position that “federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce any federal act or program.”

In the 1997 case of Printz vs. US, the late Justice Scalia wrote:

We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.

Ending state enforcement would essentially end prohibition itself, since, according to the FBI, “law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law.”

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, the author of Bill 1578, notes that California shouldn’t waste any more taxpayer money enforcing the fed’s senseless war.

AB 1578 ensures that our limited local and state resources are not spent on federal marijuana enforcement against individuals and entities that are in compliance with our laws,” said Jones-Sawyer during the floor debate.

Naturally, law enforcement groups are strongly opposed to the bill, recognizing that it would hinder their ability to steal cash and assets from innocent people through civil asset forfeiture. Several lawmakers, conveniently ignoring the issue of states’ rights, are also strongly opposed.

One frantic Assemblyman appealed to fear, claiming cops will be put “in harm’s way,” while groveling for centralized authority.

This is insanity,” said Allen. “This is a complete violation of federal law. The hubris of California Democrats believing they can flout federal law on immigration and drug policy is beyond words.”

Nevermind the enormous economic opportunity of recreational cannabis sales, or the injustice of locking people in cages for victimless behavior, or the environmental benefit that will be realized when the open marketplace drives out criminal operations poisoning fish and wildlife.

For now, rationality has the edge in California and Colorado. States must exert their Tenth Amendment rights in no uncertain terms, and preventing cops from taking part in the federal drug war is an excellent way.

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Justin Gardner is a peaceful free-thinker with a background in the biological sciences. He is interested in bringing rationality back into the national discourse, and independent journalism as a challenge to the status quo.