Marijuana Policy Is Best Left Up to the States

 In Legalization, Medical Marijuana, Recreational Marijuana
The Trump administration’s apparent desire to rekindle the federal war on pot is misguided. In withdrawing federal protection for transgendered students, the Trump administration paid tribute to our federalist system. “The president believes that this is a states’ rights issue,” said White House spokesman Sean Spicer, “We are a states’ rights party. The president in a lot of issues believes that these issues are states’ rights issues.”

Yet, hours later, the administration had little use for federalism in announcing that it would “punish” states that legalized marijuana. According to Spicer, we should expect to see “greater enforcement” of federal marijuana laws, regardless of states’ marijuana laws.

The president’s contradictory stances on these two issues are not just a matter of ideological inconsistency, either; a renewed war on pot would be bad policy. In the last few years, eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Another 28 states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. But despite this shift, police still made more than 574,000 arrests in 2015 for simple marijuana possession. To put that in perspective, there were fewer than 506,000 arrests that year for murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. That means more people were arrested for marijuana possession than for all violent crime combined. Does anyone really believe that this is a good use of police resources, or that federal agents should be ignoring serious crime and terrorism in order to chase after legal-weed users and producers in Colorado or Washington?


(Reuters photo: David McNew)
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