Medical Issues - Other

States Rights – Yes

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"States Rights - Yes"
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DEA has to enforce federal anti-drug laws, no matter what laws any state passes. Most people debate this statement on the merits of medical marijuana. However, these arguments miss a much larger and more important question. Is anti-drug laws a federal issue?

Our founding fathers realized the danger of an over-reaching federal government. They realized that any governmental power should be kept as close to the people as possible. For that reason, our constitution states, "any power not expressly given to the federal government is reserved for the states." Our founding fathers envisioned a federal government whose sole purpose was to handle matters that could not be done at the state level and were necessary for preserving the union. These functions, as the founding fathers saw it, included national defense (i.e. one state could not raise an army large enough to fight another country) and traties (i.e. foreign countries would deal with the federal government instead of individual states).

Many argue that the states cannot handle the anti-drug issue alone. Proponents of federal anti-drug legislation cite the fact that drug dealers cross state lines and use interstate highways. Let us review this question under the light of our founding fathers' philosophy. The federal government should only be involved in an issue to the extent individual states cannot handle it alone. Can an individual state pass laws determining what drugs it sees as legal and illegal? Obviously they can. After all, this is what started this debate. Can individual states police drug activity within their borders? Certainly, each state has law enforcement at many levels (i.e. city, county, and state).

States are able to address many issues that come with anti-drug legislations. There are some issues that would need to be addressed at the federal level. Drug dealers moving between states. For example, California chooses to make marijuana legal and Nevada does not. Then anyone transporting marijuana between the states would be in violation of federal interstate commerce laws. Federal charges would require federal prosecutors, federal courts, etc.

Proponents of a large federal government state that leaving issues up to the states would mean that each state could have separate laws. That is exactly what it means. State level legislatures are dealing with a smaller constituency. Smaller constituencies make it easier for people to change senators or representatives they do not agree with. This makes it easier for people to ensure that the laws reflect their true values and beliefs. This system also gives people choice. If you live in Nevada and marijuana is not legal but California makes marijuana legal then you are free to move to Nevada.

Too many issues are debated on whether the item is healthy or not. Medical marijuana is just one example. While the general public is debating that fact, our federal government can pass a law based on its beliefs. These laws may or may not agree with the will of the people. If our founding father's were not concerned with ensuring power to the people then why didn't they just make one large federal government? Whether you do not agree with medical marijuana being illegal, whether or not someone should have a gun, or any other issue, the first debate should be to move the power closer to the people. Otherwise, our federal legislators are free to do what they want because their constituency is so diluted that they will still get re-elected.

More about this author: Bruce Ziebarth

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