The Cannabis News Network

On December 31, 2017, CNN provided its annual New Year’s Eve coverage from Times Square and around the country. Their coverage included Randi Kaye reporting from Colorado, but there was something different about her live on-site reports. Rather than showing people square dancing in Nashville, or in costume parties in New Orleans, or pool partying in Miami, we saw Randi riding on a “Cannibus” where participants ride around and smoke their joints. We saw her at a “Puff, Pass and Paint” event where, as the event name suggests, participants puff on a joint, pass it to their neighbor, all while painting on a canvas.

So, what’s the big deal? She was in a state where it is legal to possess, smoke and distribute the plant. Colorado joins 7 other states (Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Interestingly enough, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government.

Schedule 1 drugs are drugs that have been labeled as such by the US Controlled Substance Act from 1970. Along with marijuana, this includes heroin, LSD, ecstasy, bath salts, peyote and many others. To be classified as a schedule 1 drug, it must meet 3 different criteria:

1. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
2. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S.
3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or substance under medical supervision.

It is definitely debatable as to whether marijuana should be included as a Schedule 1 drug because it has been found to have “medical treatment use in the U.S.”, but federal law still lists it under Schedule 1. The only way for it to be removed from the Schedule 1 listing, a petition must be filed with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). Many petitions have been filed since 1972, but as recently as August 2016, the DEA denied the petition to reclassify marijuana from the Schedule 1 list.

“Right now, the science doesn’t support it,” Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, citing a lengthy analysis conducted by the Food and Drug Administration. He said the decision “is tethered to the science.”

There is currently no immediate end to the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, therefore, it will still be an illegal substance according to federal law.

Interestingly enough, it has been reported yesterday that the Department of Justice will be modifying the current DOJ policy regarding marijuana. Currently, while it is an illegal substance, it has not been prosecuted by the federal government as such. It appears that with the coming ruling, the DOJ will let US Attorneys in each state make the determination if a federal suit will be filed against offenders.

So, it appears that the Cannabis News Network (CNN) may have started a little bit of controversy that goes all the way up to the top of government. Only time will tell what the fate of Cannabis will be, as more and more states move to a form of legalization, whether it is for medical or recreational use. One thing is for sure, the DEA doesn’t have any intention of reclassifying marijuana from the Schedule 1 designation anytime soon.

Powers Of The States

Recently, I finished a 3-part series on the powers of government.  This series covered the powers of the legislative branch, the judicial branch, and the executive branch of the federal government.  However, these powers do not include the other powers granted to government by the Constitution.  The 10th Amendment in the Bill of Rights grants one other form of power to a form of government: the individual states.

The 10th Amendment states:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

So, let’s break it down into powers that are not granted to the federal government that would pass along to the state governments:

– Build and maintain roads
– Collect taxes
– Educate inhabitants
– Make and enforce laws
– General welfare expenses
– Ratify Constitutional amendments
– Issue licenses
– Regulate business within the state
– And so on…

Several of the items on that list have been taken over by the federal government, along with others not listed.  Education has only become federally regulated since 1960 and, even more so, with the No Child Left Behind Act and the newer Every Student Succeeds Act.  With these two acts, the federal government has decided that they can do a better job of regulating the education system than the state governments, but the problem is that the Constitution didn’t provide that power to the federal government.

Another pie that the federal government has stuck its proverbial finger into is minimum wage.  It has never been granted the power to regulate wages.  The history of minimum wage is quite interesting, with multiple Supreme Court cases invalidating and later upholding the minimum wage laws in 1941.  Since then, the federal government has taken that power and has run with it, increasing minimum wage as often as it sees fit.  It would be possible to return to a strict Constitutional approach to minimum wage with another Supreme Court decision, but it would likely be very unpopular with a portion of the country who feel that the federal government should tell the states how they should govern.  States still continue to regulate the minimum wage as they see fit, but their minimum wage must be at least the same as the federal minimum, if not higher.

The United States of America was originally created with the idea that the federal government has a limited power and that each individual state would have as much or more power than the federal government.  This is happening in some instances, while in others like education and minimum wage, it is not.  For example, the medical and recreational marijuana laws that some states have passed are bucking the federal law prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana.

James Madison wrote in The Federalist No. 45:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government are few and defined.  Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite.  The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace negotiation, and foreign commerce.  The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the state.

Each year, the federal government takes more and more power from the states and gives it to itself.  The only way for this transfer and takeover of power to end is for the states to keep those powers through court action and likely a Supreme Court ruling.  Right now, however, the Supreme Court justices are not largely on the side of states’ rights over federal powers.  Until states insist on their powers remaining within their own control, you can expect the federal government to continue to grab for more and more authority.

Jason – Three Patriots

 

Sources:

http://www.basiclaw.net/Constitution/StatePowers.htm

https://www.infoplease.com/history-and-government/us-government/powers-government

http://www.heritage.org/constitution/#!/amendments/10/essays/163/reserved-powers-of-the-states

http://www.pbs.org/tpt/constitution-usa-peter-sagal/federalism/state-powers/

https://votesmart.org/education/states#.WP5ucVLlQb0

http://expungementinfo.com/exclusive-powers-state-governments/

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/tenth_amendment

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