Free Markets, Free People
Colorado and Washington had referrendums on their ballots this past election day in which growing pot for one’s own use was legalized. Much like home brewing laws, users were given the go ahead to grow enough marijuana for their own, private use.
So what does that mean in the big scheme of things? Certainly it will mean that at a state level, given the new law, state and local police aren’t going to be looking for small time users or growers. And the Fed certainly doesn’t have the manpower to go after them.
But it’s unrealistic and unwise to expect federal officials to pick up the slack left by state law- enforcement officers who used to enforce marijuana prohibitions against pot users and small-time growers. Unrealistic, because it would require lots more resources.
Resources they don’t, frankly, have.
So here we have two states acting as sort of “labs” for freedom. You know, trying something out as we were told states should do under a “federal” system.
Now, you may not agree about this particular application, but that’s how this system was supposed to work, wasn’t it?
The next obvious question then is will the Federal government allow that to happen or will it attempt to stop it. My guess is even the Federal government knows it can’t stop it physically, so it will likely resort to legal means (i.e. somehow have the laws declared invalid, thereby again making Federal law supreme and requiring LEOs to enforce them). But that could be a very long and protracted process.
For once (is there a blue moon out there?) in a very long time, the Washington Post and I agree for the most part:
[W]e favor decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot, assessing civil fines instead of locking people up. Also, for that reason and others, the Justice Department should hold its fire on a lawsuit challenging Colorado and Washington’s decision to behave more leniently. And state officials involved in good-faith efforts to regulate marijuana production and distribution according to state laws should be explicitly excused from federal targeting.
It’s not yet clear how a quasi-legal pot industry might operate in Colorado and Washington or what its public-health effects will be. It could be that these states are harbingers of a slow, national reassessment of marijuana policy. Or their experiment could serve as warning for the other 48 states.
For now, the federal government does not need to stage an aggressive intervention, one way or the other. It can wait, watch and enforce the most worrisome violations as they occur.
Where we disagree is the next to last sentence. If you’re going to stay out of it now, stay out of it later. You can’t “leave it up to the states” until you decide not too. And, it would be a nice decentralization of power – you know, federalism – which allow the states what they were originally supposed to enjoy – a certain level of autonomy (remember, the federal government was originally supposed to be mostly focused externally while the states, within Constitutional limits, pretty much looked after themselves.).
It would be a nice change from the constant attempts by the Fed to accrue power.
Super Tuesday–Romney wins VA, OH and the NE, Santorum wins the bible belt and Newt wins GA. Oh, and Dennis Kucinich lost [UPDATE]
It’s the last race that had me smiling. The rest, as far as I’m concerned were pretty predictable. And yes I know about AK and SD too.
The inevitable nod, it seems to me, will eventually go to Romney, like it or not. Yeah, I’ve heard about the possibility of a brokered convention (don’t think that will happen) and Palin possibly entering the race (don’t think that will happen either). And I’m kind of intrigued by Newt’s belief that winning his home state after almost exclusively campaigning there for weeks, somehow revitalizes his campaign for the third (and hopefully final) time.
But still, the last result was my favorite of the night.
Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), the two-time presidential candidate and icon of the antiwar left, suffered a bruising primary defeat Tuesday as a new Republican-drawn congressional map threatened to end the career of one of the most colorful figures in Congress.
With most attention focused on the state’s GOP presidential primary battle, and no Democratic primary for president, Kucinich was left in a low-turnout race in a newly drawn district against his once-close ally, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio).
Now I wouldn’t know Marcy Kaptur if she ran up and bit me on the leg, but my guess is she’d have to work very hard to be worse than Dennis Kucinich when one considers ideology (Don Surber says she’s as “March Hare radical” as Kucinich). She now gets to face “Joe the Plumber” in the election. Wow … it just gets better and better out there doesn’t it?
And, maybe now I’ll quit getting those annoying emails from Kucinich and his wife telling me how wonderful Dennis’s ideas are and why I should support him and them.
Oh, wait, he may turn into a political carpet-bagger:
What’s next for Kucinich is unclear. He has spoken of possibly moving to Washington state to run in a Democratic-leaning district. He would need to establish residency there by mid-April, but it’s not certain he could do that while remaining in Congress representing an Ohio district.
Great. Washington. Probably a perfect match.
When did we become the servants of a professional political class? When did we allow that to happen?
If you’re not discouraged about the state of politics these days, you’re just not paying attention.
UPDATE: Kucinich the “entitled” is a sore loser as well:
Addressing supporters gathered at Rubin’s Family Restaurant in Cleveland, the longtime Cleveland politician both congratulated and slammed his competitor by saying, “I would like to be able to congratulate Congresswoman Kaptur, but I do have to say that she ran a campaign in the Cleveland media market that was utterly lacking in integrity. With false statements, half truths, misrepresentations. I hope that that is not the kind of representation that she would provide to the community.”
As we discussed on the last podcast, as well as in various posts here at QandO, the biggest missed opportunity in the whole Gates kerfuffle was to draw attention to the civil liberties issues. By immediately crying racial profiling, Prof. Gates clouded an otherwise sympathetic view of his standing as a homeowner. Of course, if he hadn’t behaved the way that he did (calling Sgt. Crowley a racist cop), then he likely would never had been arrested in the first place. Nevertheless, what we should have taken from the l’affair Gates was that scenes such as the following are all too familiar:
Pepin Tuma, 33, was walking with two friends along Washington’s hip U Street corridor around midnight Saturday, complaining about how Gates had been rousted from his home for not showing a proper amount of deference to a cop. “We’d been talking about it all day,” said Tuma. “It seems like police have a tendency to act overly aggressively when they’re being pushed around,” Tuma recalled saying.
Then the group noticed five or six police cruisers surrounding two cars in an apparent traffic stop on the other side of the street. It seemed to Tuma that was more cops than necessary.
“That’s why I hate the police,” Tuma said. He told the Huffington Post that in a loud sing-song voice, he then chanted, “I hate the police, I hate the police.”
One officer reacted strongly to Tuma’s song. “Hey! Hey! Who do you think you’re talking to?” Tuma recalled the officer shouting as he strode across an intersection to where Tuma was standing. “Who do you think you are to think you can talk to a police officer like that?” the police officer said, according to Luke Platzer, 30, one of Tuma’s companions.
Tuma said he responded, “It is not illegal to say I hate the police. It’s not illegal to express my opinion walking down the street.”
According to Tuma and Platzer, the officer pushed Tuma against an electric utility box, continuing to ask who he thought he was and to say he couldn’t talk to police like that.
“I didn’t curse,” Tuma said. “I asked, am I being arrested? Why am I being arrested?”
It should come as no surprise that, in fact, Tuma was arrested on a charge of ‘disorderly conduct”:
D.C.’s disorderly conduct statute bars citizens from breaching the peace by doing anything “in such a manner as to annoy, disturb, interfere with, obstruct, or be offensive to others” or by shouting or making noise “either outside or inside a building during the nighttime to the annoyance or disturbance of any considerable number of persons.”
Tuma spent a few hours in a holding cell and was released early Sunday morning after forfeiting $35 in collateral to the police, he said. A “post and forfeit” is not an admission of guilt, and Tuma doesn’t have a court date — but the arrest will pop up if an employer does a background check.
So, adding insult to injury, Tuma gets arrested for expressing his opinion on a public street, spends the night in jail, and then is “legally” pickpocketed by the police. This is a problem, just as it was with the Gates mess, and is the real issue that should be discussed.
Forget racial profiling and other obscurants for a moment and contemplate just how much power has been granted to the police here. Is that a wise decision? Surely we want the police to be able to use their judgment in a given situation, but when a law is drafted so broadly as to provide cover when a cop feels insulted then such law flies in the face of constitutional protections.
Furthermore, situations like this really undermine the concept of police being “professionals”. Having the power to arrest someone because they get a little mouthy is not a power any real professional should want or need. Being a professional means being able to negotiate the situation through one’s abilities, not through one’s grant of extraordinary power. I mean, could you imagine if lawyers had the ability to throw people in clink for insulting them? Who would be safe?
The fact of the matter is that there are just too many laws to begin with. Cut down on number if infractions cops are expected to enforce, and you will cut down on the number of incidences where the police overstep their authority. When the only thing in danger is a cop’s feelings, then I think it’s safe to say that incarcerating anyone is a monumental waste of time and resources that could be better spent going after real criminals.