Pubdate: Fri, 16 Nov 2012
Source: Tifton Gazette (GA)
Copyright: 2012
Author: David Sirota


What's next? Amid all the munchie-themed jokes from reporters, 
political elites and late-night comedians, this remains the 
overarching question after Coloradans voted overwhelmingly to 
legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in the same way alcohol is 
already legalized, regulated and taxed. Since those anti-Drug-War 
principles are now enshrined in Colorado's constitution, only the 
feds can stop this Rocky Mountain state  if they so choose. But will 
they? And should they even be able to?

The answer to the former is maybe. Barack Obama campaigned for 
president pledging to respect state marijuana laws but his Justice 
Department has been authorizing federal crackdowns. Now, with the 
results of the 2012 election, Colorado's Democratic Gov. John 
Hickenlooper has been forced into the awkward position of fighting 
off the feds in defense of a state constitutional amendment he tried to defeat.

Because of Hickenlooper's cynical contradictions  the beer mogul 
opposed pot legalization after making millions selling the more 
hazardous drug called alcohol - he is not trusted by drug policy 
reformers. That distrust only intensified when Hickenlooper reacted 
to the ballot measure's passage with an infantile attempt at comedy.

"Don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly," he snickered.

Not surprisingly, proponents of the pot initiative, which passed with 
more votes than either Obama or Hickenlooper have ever received in 
Colorado, weren't laughing. Specifically, they argue that 
Hickenlooper even asking the White House for permission to 
proceed  rather than simply moving forward on behalf of his state's 
voters - could be an attempt to solidify the precedent of federal 
preemption before courts cite the 10th amendment to invalidate that authority.

Of course, before the judiciary steps in, the federal DEA will cite 
the 1970 Controlled Substances Act to do whatever it wants. That gets 
to the second issue of "should"  should that statutory power exist 
anymore? It's a pressing question that a new Democratic proposal 
could force Congress to confront.

As the Colorado Independent reports, while Hickenlooper cracks 
frat-boy jokes, Colorado's "three Democratic U.S. House members are 
drafting legislation ... that would exempt states where pot has been 
legalized from the Controlled Substances Act."

So far, President Obama hasn't taken a position on the bill. However, 
a White House citizens' petition supporting the measure could force 
his hand. In just days, it has garnered the necessary number of 
signatures to officially require a presidential response (you can 
sign it at Signatures are no doubt piling up 
because the initiative presents a straightforward path to success.

Politically, it would allow drug warriors to support a states' rights 
position on narcotics policy while avoiding an explicit stand in 
support of marijuana use. At the same time, it would short circuit a 
jurisdictional fight between states and Washington, D.C.

Such a skirmish would not merely be expensive and pointless - it 
would also be lengthy, meaning billions more taxpayer dollars wasted 
on a failed prohibitionist policy, and worse, more innocent Americans 
punished for the "crime" of smoking a joint.

That's not funny - no matter how many politicians, comedians and 
reporters try to tell you otherwise.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom