by Eileen | 6:50 pm, November 9, 2012 | Comments Off
Voters expressed a clear preference for legalizing the possession, growth, and use of marijuana for recreational purposes among adults. Yet we’re already drowning in ink over why the new law won’t change anything. Why is heeding the will of the people so damn difficult for politicians who won’t shut up about their desire to serve?
1. John Hickenlooper is pretty much defined by power lust and insincerity. He wants national office so badly he can taste it. Therefore, he won’t do anything that might hurt him in Washington. If the Feds are going to get huffy about the audacity of square-state peons disrespecting their authority, then Hickenlooper will parrot that line. Right now, he’s trying to play both sides - convincing Coloradans he’s on their side and working with the Feds only out of necessity while convincing DC he’s on their side and only giving in to voters with reluctance. Expect much more of his patented ‘Aww, shucks, I’m just following the job description’ brand of patronizing hokum.
2. Federalism terrifies the Federal government. Once upon a time, much of what we saw over state’s rights was racism trying to appropriate the 10th Amendment. We are today seeing uses of state’s rights that have nothing to do with Jim Crow and segregation. However, Washington has got used to handily dismissing state’s rights and is not eager to admit that times have changed and they’ve lost their favorite whipping boy when it comes to paying homage to an idea while actively blocking its application.
3. The ‘War on Drugs’ is a smoke screen for a great many things that would never fly if the government were honest about what it’s really doing. In the trade, this is called ‘policy laundering.’ Surveillance, privacy violations, clear abrogations of the 4th Amendment, seizure of private property and land, meddling in businesses, misadventures in foreign lands, huge diversions of public moneys, hassling citizens who are thorns in the state’s side…all get justified as being necessary to fight those pesky drugs. Understandably, though deplorably, the Beltway set is disinclined to give up a well-loved palliative.
4. The ‘War on Drugs’ is also ridiculously expensive. Anything that shows how ill-spent all that money is threatens the job security and comfortable lifestyles of a lot of people.
5. Were the Federal government to admit that the voters’ will is clear and that, as such, they’ll just have to wrap up, step down, and cease enforcement, it would set precedent for further erosion of centralized power. If Washington and obsequious toadies in Colorado continue to enforce drug laws in blatant contradiction of public will, it will be an obvious and shameful statement about the government. But, if they accept that voters know what they want and what they want is less government, it will be an indication that Big Government knows it’s unwanted. Given those choices, any state will always choose to be hated rather than admit it’s unnecessary.
6. States rely on maintaining stigma as one way to control behavior. Lets’ say 64 goes into effect. First, it will become harder to maintain the myth that marijuana is dangerous or some sort of gateway drug. Secondly, any attendant shame will be diminished. Third, pundits who routinely tout the ‘Reefer Madness’ line of thought will be eating crow.
7. If the government stops wasting resources on a lost anti-drug campaign, they are under that much more pressure to explain why they can’t meet their core obligations to the citizens.
My bet is that the state and Federal government will find a way to nominally ‘allow’ the law while defanging it as much as possible – heavy taxes, limited locations with truncated hours, requirements that anyone wishing to purchase marijuana submit to being entered onto a registry readily available to numerous government agencies, exceptions as to who can actually take advantage of the law, and so on. Private citizens who disclose that they are growing the herb in an attempt to head off government intrusions may also find themselves subjected to warrantless surveillance and searches – you know, just to make sure you aren’t exceeding your six-ounce allowance. I make these predictions because I know that one thing the U.S. Government does very well is pretend to honor the peoples’ will while using seeming rule of law to further their own aims.
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