Cannabis, the Constitution and States Rights

The change in the legal status of the cannabis plant has been a mixed blessing. The industry is now entering the arena of dynamic market capitalism despite many of its pioneers still serving lengthy prison sentences and many seriously ill patients still going without.  

Too often these new corporate growers don’t have the same passion and spiritual attachment to the plant that the former outlaws who grew it did. This has many implications for both business and government. We need to avoid the negative baggage of entrepreneurship with its crony capitalism, cut-throat competition, and lack of compassion. At the same time, we need to make sure that medicinal cannabis is readily available and affordable for the tens of millions of patients who benefit from it.

We are at a critical point in our nation’s history. The cannabis industry may play a role in preserving America’s democracy. There is a life and death struggle for the survival of important institutions of our Constitutional democracy. In America, the basic framework of law is found in the Constitution. Clearly the Constitution is under attack.

The last several presidents have advanced a constitutional vision that is sharply at odds with the text, history, and structure of our Constitution. We need to guard against politicians and bureaucrats amassing power and undermining it. Politicians of all political stripes used to enthusiastically support what John Adams called “a government of laws and not of men,” but you’d never guess it by the actions of the current administration and its congressional apologists.

Cannabis can be a tool to change the way business and government operate. We need to promote social tolerance, and peaceful international relations. A robust, humanistic cannabis industry can not only generate jobs and produce increased tax revenue, but creative industry leaders can help influence the use of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars in a positive manner.

The rule of law is hanging by a thread. We need to return to the concept of three co-equal branches of government. We need to control our government. Currently we have a government that is making a mess of the incredibly successful vision laid out by the Founding Fathers. The most disturbing challenge to constitutionalism in recent decades has been the bipartisan effort to distort the balance of power among the three branches of the federal government.

The essence of the United States Constitution, as captured by the Enumerated Powers Doctrine, is the idea that the powers of the federal government are specifically enumerated, and therefore limited. The Tenth Amendment makes sure that point is clearly understood by saying that those powers not granted to the national government are reserved o the states or to the people. The powers granted to the federal government, James Madison said, are “few and defined.”

As political satirist Paul Krasner, editor of the Realist wrote, “States rights isn’t just for racists anymore.” The federal government does not have the constitutional authority to regulate the practice of medicine.

We are now experiencing a complete breakdown in the rule of law that the Founding Fathers never could have imagined. The fact that the federal government is trying to tell states how to regulate doctors and their past efforts to muzzle what doctors can tell their patients, is an abomination to the Constitution. The cannabis industry has an opportunity to support the clear meaning of the Constitution.

Above is based on principles elucidated by the CATO Institute.