Decriminalization of Marijuana vs. Local Regulatory Control

Essay add: 5-08-2016, 16:26   /   Views: 30
We Don’t Juana Give Everyone Power to Decide
[i:219a1fc06c]Decriminalization of Marijuana vs. Local Regulatory Control[/i:219a1fc06c]

Marijuana, a Schedule I mild hallucinogen is illegal to purchase, cultivate and posses in all fifty states of the union . In recent years, states have taken steps to harness the medical benefits of this drug and some have even gone so far as to decriminalize it altogether. States such as California and Oregon led the charge for decriminalization with several others following in step1. Marijuana, used alone cannot be abused to the point of an overdose and there are no documented cases of a marijuana related death. Given this trend many local and town governments have tried to use this as grounds for decriminalizing marijuana as well as many other more potent and fatal ‘recreational’ drugs.

The decriminalization of marijuana by local government has been utilized by certain individuals in attempt to amend the current laws on drug use. Their arguments are invalid due to the fact that municipal governments do not, and should not, have the power to take such action. Therefore using these state decriminalization cases as examples to call for a nationwide decriminalization of “recreational drugs” cannot prove to be effective.

Article I and article IV of the Constitution grant states the power to a legislative body unto themselves with a code of law for each member of the Union. The Federalists purposely gave these specific rights to the States, not towns or municipalities, to ensure that a majority faction could never be established enabling an area to fall victim to politics of self-interest. In Federalist Ten Madison points out that;

“There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction. The one: destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions and the same interests.”
(Fed. 10, pg. 72)

While it may seem more democratic to give equal say to every town and city, and force states to recognize this power, it is this concept which will deconstruct the careful equilibrium of power this nation strove so hard to achieve. If this were the case every single vote in our elections would count, but instead that power is granted to the Electoral College. Instead it is recognized that if every town is granted a legislative body unto itself, power is taken from the state level as well as the nation as a whole. Madison backs this assertion further saying,

“To refine and enlarge the public views by passing them though the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the interest of their country… Under such regulation it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves” (Fed. 10, pg. 77)

Madison sees that at a public and local level where politics are not the job of the common man, views can be easily manipulated. One may ask: How is it that one town’s decision to decriminalize marijuana effect the rest of the nation? Yet the question needs to be further examined; If a town has the right to decriminalize marijuana or any other drug, what can prevent them from passing other laws? If towns are given the authority to compose drug laws, who can then say that individual laws about rape and marriage cannot be amended. It is then that the position of first selectmen in a town becomes nearly as influential as a state senator, yet without the series of checks and balances we have in place to regulate their decisions. Federalist Ten raises a valid point,

“Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests of the people. The question resulting is, whether small or extensive republics are most favorable to the elections of proper guardians of the public weal; it is clearly decided in favor of the latter…”
(Fed. 10, pg. 77)

This nation relies on the idea of a federalist government with a series of checks and balances in order to prevent a majority faction from ever occurring. Alexander Hamilton put it best in his proclamation that the government, whether on the state or national level, must have the power to “pass all laws and make all regulation” due to the simple fact that,

“A pure democracy by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischief of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case be felt by a majority of the whole.”
(Fed. 10, pg. 76)

In order to better the aforementioned argument it is necessary to look at the anti-federalist view. Since all power cannot be derived from a national level and states are granted power unto themselves, the arguments for state power easily lend a hand to the regulation of power.

“The governments instituted to secure the rights spoken of by the Declaration of Independence are the state governments. They do the primary business that governments are supposed to do. The government of the Union supplements the state governments, especially by giving them an external strength that none of them could manage on its own.”
(What the Anti-Federalists Were For, Storing pg. 15)

Storing’s argument for a higher emphasis on state governments rather than the national government lends a hand to the thesis as well. Though one may not agree with Storing’s view of a state government oriented Union, nowhere, even in the anti-federalist stance, does it give such power to anything less than a state. The Federalists and Anti-Federalists alike recognized that power is a privilege which has a great potential to be abused if given to the wrong person or group. A majority faction can never be formed at a national level, and even a state level is very unlikely, but in towns it is almost inevitable that such a faction could come to power quickly and thus disassemble the towns around it and damage the state.

It is clear that decriminalization of marijuana is not the issue to take a side against; the issue is giving such unrestrictive power to a town official who is not savvy to the political world. Should an individual state try to pass legislature to decriminalize all drugs their doing so would be more valid than the attempts of a town. The power to make such monumental decisions such as the availability of intoxicating and potentially fatal substances is a matter which cannot fall into the opinions of the few since the effects will be felt on a much greater scale.

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