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Attorney General Jeff Sessions kicked off the New Year by reversing the Obama-era guidance for federal prosecutors to limit their enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use. In what is almost certainly not a coincidence, Sessions’ announcement came days after California’s law legalizing recreational marijuana sales went into effect. Sessions’ action thus runs counter to the wishes of the majority of the people in the most populous US state, as well the people of the 28 other states (and DC) that have legalized some form of marijuana use.

Federal laws criminalizing marijuana and other drugs have failed to reduce drug use. However, they have succeeded in giving power-hungry politicians and bureaucrats what was, before 9-11, the go-to justification for violating our civil liberties. The federal war on marijuana has also wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. Far from reducing crime, outlawing drugs causes crime by ensuring criminals will control the market for drugs. Outlawing drugs also provides incentives for drug dealers to increase the potency, and thus the danger, of drugs, as higher potency products take up less space and are thus easier to conceal from law enforcement.

The US Constitution does not give the federal government any authority to criminalize marijuana. Thus, the question of whether marijuana is legal is one of the many issues reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment. If the Constitution gives Congress the power to ban marijuana, then why was it necessary to amend the Constitution to give Congress the power to ban alcohol?

Sessions’ usurpation of state marijuana laws is the type of federal intrusion into state issues usually opposed by conservatives. Sadly, too many conservatives are just as willing to sacrifice constitutional government and individual liberties for the war on drugs as they are for the war on terror.

Conservative hypocrisy is especially strong when it comes to medical marijuana. Many Americans have used medical marijuana for conditions such as cancer and glaucoma. Yet many conservatives who (properly) decry Obamacare’s mandate forcing every American to purchase health insurance cheer Jeff Sessions’ effort to deprive suffering individuals of the medical treatment of their choice. Cruel paternalism in healthcare policy is often associated with progressives, but unfortunately conservatives are just as guilty.

States that have legalized medical marijuana have fewer deaths related to opioid abuse. These states have also experienced a decrease in crime and black market activity. This is perhaps because some have found medical marijuana a viable alternative to opioids.

Laws outlawing marijuana criminalize peaceful behavior that, while potentially harmful to the individual, does not violate the rights of others. Therefore, these laws, like all laws authorizing government force against peaceful, if immoral, actions, are incompatible with a free society. Once again we see the hypocrisy of conservatives who decry progressives’ war on tobacco and fatty foods, yet support jailing marijuana users.

Federal laws outlawing marijuana violate the Constitution, justify violations of civil liberties, and increase violence. By criminalizing nonviolent behavior voluntarily chosen by individuals, drug laws undermine the moral principles underlying a free society.

President Trump should fire Jeff Sessions and replace him with someone who respects the Constitution and individual liberty. Also, officials from states with legal medical or recreational marijuana should refuse to cooperate with those tasked with enforcing federal marijuana laws. If President Trump and state officials stand up for liberty, the people will join them in saying no to Jeff Sessions.

(Republished from The Ron Paul Institute by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Donald Trump, Marijuana 
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  1. Randal says:

    It does seem like a pretty stupid time for the Trump administration to pick an unnecessary fight with libertarians and with states’ rights advocates, backed by legal marijuana investors, nor does it seem likely to be a fight he can win. Drugs prohibition is surely as failed a policy as was alcohol prohibition, just on a somewhat slower burn descent.

  2. Thanks Dr. Paul. But there is no longer any need to make the case against marijuana prohibition. Only people like Jeff (reefer madness) Sessions still think it’s a good idea and nothing will ever change their mind. Sessions is quoted as saying “good people don’t smoke marijuana”. I say good people don’t throw millions of people in prison for smoking a harmless herb. It appears that Trump just doesn’t care to be involved in the issue. It gets harder to support him all the time.

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
  3. Clerk says:

    If this federal enforcement effort does materialize, it will be important to publicize and educate people about jury nullification.

  4. I don’t think that Sessions considers himself part of the Trump administration. He seems to think that he is completely independent not only of Trump (head of the Executive branch), but of the other two branches of government as well. Sessions is going to cause what congresscritters pretend to dread: “a Constitutional crisis”.

    As if that isn’t bad enough, he also looks like Granny Clampett. That is really scary.

    • Replies: @Antiwar7
  5. Conservative hypocrisy is especially strong when it comes to medical marijuana.

    Accepting without assent your use of the word “hypocrisy”, what would be hypocritical (in your usage) would be to oppose the Obama era use of the Executive to override the clear intent of the laws that are on the books on a selective basis. I would contend that it is that “hypocrisy” that the Attorney General is trying to avoid.

    The man took an oath to faithfully uphold the laws of the nation. I believe he takes that seriously.

    If the Federal Law prohibiting marijuana use is to be rescinded it is the job of the legislature to do it. It would be good exercise for the spineless asshats to have to stand and do something.

  6. jtgw says:
    @another fred

    Each branch of government is sworn to uphold the Constitution. If the executive branch were meant to leave the interpretation of the Constitution entirely up to the other branches, why bother with the oath? Federal regulation of intra-state trade is absolutely unconstitutional, no matter what the judges or lawmakers have said. A constitutional enforcement of the CSA would only be able to target drugs that traded across state borders.

  7. TG says:

    I share your sentiments about Jeff Sessions and marijuana. It seems a bad time to pick a fight on this issue, when there are so many more important things to worry about. I do point out, however, that today’s marijuana is far more potent than the drug used in the 1960’s, and it is not harmless – in particular, it seems to be really potent at creating psychosis and schizophrenia in young people.

    But nevertheless, despite this, I consider Jeff Sessions a true patriot and am glad that he is in the Trump administration, if only for his heroic efforts on the immigration issue. Bottom line: the rich want to turn the United States into another cheap-labor sweatshop by importing massive numbers of refugees from the overpopulated third world. There is tremendous money and pressure to toe the line on this issue, but Jeff Sessions has endured any number of slanders and stood firm. I guess if an error like the marijuana thing is what we have to put up with to get such a stubborn man of principle, I’ll take that.

    The nation can survive a temporary folly on marijuana. It can’t survive becoming another Bangladesh, and that won’t be temporary.

    Oh, and as far as ‘there shall be open borders’ being libertarian, well, I think the American people own this country, and have a perfect right to determine who to let in and how many. Just like the sociopathic CEO of facebook has the right to put a wall around his private estate and enforce the laws against trespassing. But then, all too many libertarians believe that ‘there shall be open borders’ is only for little people…

    • Replies: @jtgw
  8. jtgw says:

    The argument that Americans “own” the country as a reason for allowing immigration control only works insofar as majority rule is justified in general. Should your rights to your own property be subject to majority vote? If not, we need an argument for why the freedom to associate or not associate with foreigners in particular should be a matter for the majority to decide, rather than for each individual concerned.

  9. anarchyst says:

    It took a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT to make alcohol illegal, and another CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT to “re-legalize” alcohol.
    WHY not the same parameters for making certain drugs illegal?

    • Replies: @anonymous
  10. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Good point.

    The states and the Congress have both ceded their authority. Few are the members who care to address decisions like war (deferring to the President since 1941) or social issues (allowing nine robed priests to lead the law around by the nose). The judiciary has condoned the disregard of any Constitutional limits on a national government, further endorsed the arrogation of power by the executive, and relieved both of the other branches of accountability over politically risky issues like abortion.

    I now withhold my consent, having ceased voting for any “federal” office.

    • Replies: @jtgw
  11. KenH says:

    President Trump should fire Jeff Sessions and replace him with someone who respects the Constitution and individual liberty.

    And just where was Ron Paul and his libertarian flock when Eric Holder was trampling muh Constitution and the liberties therein? Obama and Holder trashed that document with their words and deeds and there was silence, but when Jeff Sessions reverses the laissez faire enforcement of drug laws pertaining to marijuana then suddenly a battle cry of “to arms, fellow Americans”, “to arms!!!” emanates from libertarian quarters.

    I’m against Session’s move not because I support cannabis usage but because it will take away precious resources from enforcing immigration laws and suing recalcitrant states like California which should be priority #1 for the next decade.

    Libertarians care much more about preserving an American’s right to smoke a joint than they are mass third world immigration, both legal and illegal, and the profound changes it is wreaking on the social and political fabric of this nation.

    • Replies: @jtgw
    , @jtgw
  12. jtgw says:

    And just where was Ron Paul and his libertarian flock when Eric Holder was trampling muh Constitution and the liberties therein?


  13. jtgw says:

    Didn’t Congress formally declare war in 1941? This isn’t to say the FDR administration didn’t do everything it could to provoke the Axis powers into attacking us in order to create a pretext for war, but I think legally the onset of formal hostilities was by the book.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  14. jtgw says:

    Sorry, messed up the hyperlink in my earlier comment.

    RP pointed out Holder’s abuses of power very many times. Just check out the results here:

    There was no “silence” in the face of the Obama administration’s excesses. But they are no longer in power; we are going after the abuses of the current administration now.

    • Replies: @KenH
  15. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Sure. My use of “since” could have been clearer.

  16. So we’re supposed to reject Sessions because of one issue, pot? Seems to me he’s doing a pretty good job rounding up MS-13, hiring more immigration judges, taking on sanctuary cities and defending the travel ban. A cynic might conclude that NeverTrumpers and LOLbertarians like the doddering old Ron Paul are using the pot issue to sabotage some of his other projects. But they would never do that, would they? Has Ron Paul ever said one sensible thing on immigration?

    • Replies: @jtgw
  17. MEexpert says:

    Federal laws criminalizing marijuana and other drugs have failed to reduce drug use.

    I am a big fan of Dr. Paul but this article left me scratching my head. There are many more pressing problems facing the US today. Pot is the least of the problem. Why waste his energy on it?

    Granted, Jeff Serssions can spend the federal resources to tackle other social problems (such as, going after Hillary Clinton-lol) but if he is going after the use of pot, which after all is a federal crime, then let him do it. Like the war on poverty, the US has been fighting the war on drugs for many years and has failed miserably. They will meet with the same result here.

    How can the DOJ fight against the other branches of the federal government. The drugs are the biggest source of income for the CIA to finance all these overseas wars and other covert operations. CIA will never let anyone interfere with those operations. They know how to take care of both domestic and foreign trouble makers. They will make Sessions an offer he could not refuse.

    • Replies: @jtgw
  18. jtgw says:

    You seem a bit confused. Dr Paul is not the one advocating for federal criminalization of marijuana. Sessions is the one cracking down on states that have legalized it, which indeed is a gross misuse of resources.

    • Replies: @MEexpert
  19. MEexpert says:

    I am not confused. I know Dr. Paul is a libertarian and has been against federal criminalization of marijuana for a long time and if you read my comments, I did not say that Dr. Paul is for criminalization. My only point was that it is not a pressing issue so why waste his energy on it.

    • Replies: @jtgw
  20. jtgw says:

    OK I wasn’t sure what you meant by “waste his energy”.

    The drug war is enormously costly and ending it should be a priority. Many of the social ills that concern conservatives can be laid at the feet of the failed drug war.

  21. jtgw says:

    RP has never been anti-immigrant enough to satisfy the real xenophobes, but he has never supported open borders either and has gotten flak from some libertarians over it. If I recall correctly, he is against birthright citizenship and thinks citizenship in general should be more difficult to obtain. He is also against handing out any benefits or taxpayer-funded services to immigrants. But in general no, we libertarians don’t make such a priority out of ending immigration as you might. We think immigration is an aspect of freedom of association. You should not be allowed to impose the costs of immigration on the taxpayer, but other than that you should be free to hire whoever you want, rent or sell property to whoever you want, and so on.

  22. KenH says:

    My bad. Thanks for the reminder.

    Still, libertarians are much more willing to unsheathe their swords when it comes to the federal “war on drugs” than they are the federal “war on the European majority” via mass third world immigration or the over lost liberties due to so called “civil rights” legislation of the 1960’s that nullifies freedom of association and gives the federal government the final say over all interactions and transactions among the citizenry.

    It just seems that libertarians pick some strange hills to die on. We’re well on our way to becoming a dysfunctional and authoritarian state with the racial demography of Brazil. The Constitution will have been rendered meaningless. But I guess as long we can still roll a joint, snort some lines or smoke some crack thanks to brave libertarian activists then maybe things won’t be as bad as I anticipate.

    • Replies: @jtgw
  23. Eagle Eye says:
    @another fred

    If the Federal Law prohibiting marijuana use is to be rescinded it is the job of the legislature to do it.

    True as far as “rescinding” is concerned.

    But what if a statute – like federal marijuana laws – is unconstitutional to begin with? In that case, it is up to the citizens to deny enforcement of the unconstitutional law. The whole point of limiting the powers of Congress lies in the fact that Congress does sometimes overstep its limits.

    The federal executive and judicial power, and the states, are each under an obligation to ensure that the U.S. Constitution is upheld.

    Upholding the Constitution may also require ignoring purported rulings by the Supreme Court itself if those rulings are clearly contrary to the Constitution. It is not that hard to browbeat, blackmail or bribe the nine robes.

    • Replies: @jtgw
  24. MEexpert says:

    But what if a statute – like federal marijuana laws – is unconstitutional to begin with? In that case, it is up to the citizens to deny enforcement of the unconstitutional law.

    Do you live in the United States? Do you know how this works? Congress (the representatives of the people) can pass any legislation they want. Only the Supreme Court has the authority to decalre a law unconstitutional. What they decide become the law of the land. If people started deciding which law is constitutional and which is not, anarchy will reign.

    Upholding the Constitution may also require ignoring purported rulings by the Supreme Court itself if those rulings are clearly contrary to the Constitution.

    The Supreme Court makes its decision based on the constitution. I repeat, the rulings of the Supreme Court become the law of the land. The people will be punished if they break the law.

    Or maybe I am the one who doesn’t know how the system works now. These days even the Supreme Court can be duped by the Deep State and the Israel lobby to ignore obviously unconstitutional legislations passed by the congress or put a stamp of approval. I do know, however, that not long ago the Supreme Court Judges had the integrity and guts to make the right decisions and not the politically correct ones. A quality lacking in the present Supreme Court and the lower court judges.

    • Replies: @Eagle Eye
  25. Eagle Eye says:

    Only the Supreme Court has the authority to declare a law unconstitutional. What they decide become the law of the land. If people started deciding which law is constitutional and which is not, anarchy will reign.

    The Constitution does NOT say this. The Supreme Court, of course, is subject to an institutional imperative to claim the SOLE right to interpret the Constitution.

    In fact, the Constitution is a guidebook for all citizens, and ALL branches of government. For example, both houses of Congress have long-established procedures and precedents most of which have never been reviewed by the Supreme Court.

    For day-to-day legal issues, it is useful to consolidate interpretation of major issues in the hands of the Supreme Court. At a lower level, we knowingly permit different circuits to adopt different views, and state courts again have divergent views on issues of Constitutional law, notwithstanding the theory that they are fully bound by federal law.

    The question is ultimately one of ecology. Which view best serves to improve the chances of survival of our Constitutional system:

    (1) SC Supremacism: Making the Nine Robes sole and exclusive arbiters of Constitutional law, to be followed blindly by the military, the federal executive and legislative branches, and the states? It will be remembered that the 9 were nominated by successive presidents. They are nominally 6 Catholics, 3 Jews, mostly products of the Ivy League intellectual ecosystem.

    (2) Diverse Democracy: Diffusing awareness of Constitutional principles into every household, the Armed Forces, every village council, every DMV office, every state, the executive, state legislatures, etc.

    Have the Supremes ever hijacked the Constitution for ulterior aims?

    • Agree: jtgw
  26. @another fred

    Sessions is upholding the laws he likes and ignoring those he doesn’t like. There are laws against what Hillary Clinton did with classified State Dept. documents as well as laws against her brazen acceptance of bribes which were called “donations” to her fraudulent foundation. There are laws against her misuse of influence as a Secretary of State to steer privilege to donors and laws against lying to Congress.

    Granny Sessions isn’t interested in anything the political class does, only in what lowly citizens do. He wants to push for more highway robbery by state and local police, who steal the hard earned money of the poor subjects while he turns a blind eye to the abuses of power committed by his fellow Swamp Creatures.

    Sessions has made a career of being one of the spineless asshats you mentioned.

  27. Personally, I doubt that legalizing pot is going to stop people from using it or be a net plus. Nor is pot harmless. But libertarians are SO tiresome with their incessant prattle about pot when people are being jailed or even murdered for right-wing opinions or affiliations and schools and corporations are enforcing alien and radical norms of conduct on children and workers. Where are libertarians when it comes to the right to free association and free speech? Europe’s laws in particular cry out for condemnation but libertarians would rather talk about the Federal Reserve, taxation, and the right to smoke pot than the tyranny of arresting people for dissenting opinions.

    • Replies: @Antiwar7
  28. jtgw says:

    The drug war is not just about whether some people get to smoke pot or use other drugs. It’s about all the other harm caused by prohibition: the mass incarceration, the waste of money and manpower, the gang warfare, the deaths due to uncontrolled drug purity or infected needles. Laws aren’t enforced by magic; enforcement involves violence over and above the harm caused by not letting people put what they want in their bodies.

    My view is that the Constitution was rendered “meaningless” a very long time ago. I mean, think about the argument that we should tolerate flagrant violations of the Constitution now (in the form of the federal war on drugs) for the sake of slightly more vigorous immigration law enforcement that might stave off further violations of the Constitution in the future. What are we even fighting for anymore?

    I think those who frame it as a white nationalist cause are being a bit more honest; they recognize that the Constitution is just a meaningless document and that what really matters for them is preserving an ethnic and racial majority of whites. If they had to abolish the Constitution and sacrifice all their liberties to save the white nation state, they would do so. As a libertarian, I fail to see the benefit of that. I’d prefer to live in a multi-ethnic state with liberties than a white-only ethnostate with no liberties.

    And note that I’m *not* disputing that, ceteris paribus, liberty would have more of a political future with a white majority. But it seems that many white defenders of liberty are happy to sacrifice that liberty simply for the sake of keeping the country white, at which point I think they’ve lost sight of their ultimate goal.

  29. jtgw says:
    @Eagle Eye

    I agree with this (up to the part about blackmailing the justices, which seems unnecessary). If the president cannot enforce the law in any way that is consistent with the Constitution as he understands it, he should not enforce it. Congress then has the power to impeach him, of course.

  30. Antiwar7 says:
    @Twodees Partain

    Re: Granny, are you saying you have photos, a la J. Edgar Hoover?

  31. Antiwar7 says:
    @jack daniels

    The “net plus” includes denying violent criminals the right to print money.

    Those other abuses are bad, as well. But there’s no denying that enforcing drug laws is worse than a waste of money.

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