Marijuana Victory in DC is the Result of State Resistance and Nullification

Shane Trejo, Tenth Amendment Center

While Pres. Obama’s signature on the massive spending bill passed by Congress last month resulted in another huge expansion of federal power in many areas, the bill also shows how the states actually won a long-standing battle against federal power.

A measure in the controversial Omnibus spending bill will stop Department of Justice (DOJ) sanctioned raids of medical marijuana operations legal under state law. While it remains to be seen if the DOJ will abide by this new provision, it does signify yet another federal capitulation as the failed war on drugs works its way to a close.

“This is truly a long-fought victory for medical marijuana patients who have lived in fear of being caught in the crossfire of conflicting state and federal laws for nearly two decades,” Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) Steph Sherer said. “But this is also a victory for taxpayers because of the hundreds of millions of dollars saved on unnecessary and harmful enforcement.”

Marijuana Policy Project director of communications Mason Tvert also expressed support for the position.

“Congress has finally initiated a drawdown in the federal government’s war on medical marijuana. This legislation makes it clear that the DEA has no business interfering in states’ medical marijuana laws. Taxpayer money should not be used to punish seriously ill people who use medical marijuana and the caregivers who provide it to them.”

While this is certainly a positive development, we must realize that this didn’t happen because the feds suddenly gained a conscience. They didn’t suddenly see the light. They had their hands forced due to massive state-level resistance and a nullification in practice.

With nearly two-dozen states legalizing cannabis for medical use, the feds really had little choice. Because people worked at the state level where they were able to have the most success, terrible federal policy was successfully thwarted.

Because so many states defied federal mandates on marijuana, it put the feds in a tough spot. They could either continue to wage this failed crusade amidst immense public dissatisfaction and scrutiny, or they could give up. Rather than risk losing a great deal of credibility and exposing themselves as weak and ineffectual, they chose the surrender option instead. It is state-level resistance that directly facilitated our country’s shift in marijuana policy.

Of course, the feds will take credit for enacting this reform, but that is all spin and nothing but spin. After all, President Obama initially increased medical marijuana raids as compared to his predecessor. Federal bureaucrats don’t cede power voluntarily. No matter what spin they concoct, we must realize that state-level resistance is the key to substantial, lasting policy changes.

We can use this medical marijuana victory as a blueprint to achieve victory on every pressing issue that is facing us. There is no reason why the same formula for success cannot be applied to many other issues. When we circumvent the federal system entirely, we can work through our states and our communities to twist their hands and make them alter policy whether they want to or not.

At the Tenth Amendment Center, we offer plans that take this method to its fullest. We followed the advice of the founding fathers, and work diligently enable reformers to fulfill their potential. On issues as diverse as guns, money, drones, hemp and health care, we make it easier for activists to make a substantial impact. So what are you waiting for? Get in the game, and continue the people-powered revolution to show the feds who’s boss – once and for all!