Tuesday, November 18, 2014
The title of this post is the subheading of this notable commentary by Jacob Sullum at Reason.com. Here are a few excerpts:
At a press conference last week, Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia's congressional delegate, urged her colleagues to respect the will of the voters who overwhelmingly approved marijuana legalization in the nation's capital on November 4. She was joined by three congressmen, including Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who said trying to block legalization in D.C. or in Alaska and Oregon, where voters also said no to marijuana prohibition this month, would flout "fundamental principles" that "Republicans have always talked about," including "individual liberties," "limited government," and "states' rights and the 10th Amendment."...
Initiative 71, which passed by a margin of more than 2 to 1, allows adults 21 or older to possess two ounces or less of marijuana, grow up to six plants at home, and transfer up to an ounce at a time to other adults "without remuneration." It does not authorize commercial production or distribution, although the District of Columbia Council is considering legislation that would. "I see no reason why we wouldn't follow a regime similar to how we regulate and tax alcohol," incoming Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a press conference after the election.
In theory, there are a couple of ways that Congress could try to stop all this from happening. It could pass a joint resolution disapproving Initiative 71, or it could bar the District from spending money to implement the measure. But neither of these approaches looks very promising....
Strictly speaking, "states' rights" do not apply to the District of Columbia, which was created by Congress and is subject to much more extensive federal control than the states are. But as Obama suggests, the arguments for federalism — in particular, the idea that political decisions should be made at the lowest feasible level to facilitate citizen influence, policy experimentation, and competition among jurisdictions — apply to D.C. as well as the states. Given the president's views on the subject, it seems reasonable to assume that he would take a dim view of attempts to nullify Initiative 71.