Shocking News: State lawmakers behave rationally!

I’m used to hearing the term “States’ Rights” invoked as a rationale for the perpetuation of racism, sexism or other sorts of bigotry; acts largely condemned by national majorities, but venerated as part of the authentic cultural heritage of small, out of the way places.  I know there are other, less objectionable ways of looking at it, but that’s how it seems to me.  In my mind, too, that term is pronounced with a southern accent.

Strange, then, to see state legislators in Colorado invoke states’ rights in their efforts to push back against the Feds in this story.    The letter to Obama via Attorney General Eric Holder is worth reading, if only as a reminder that elected officials can occasionally propose reasonable views on hotly-contested issues.

It’ll be interesting to see who gets the regulatory framework for decriminalized medical marijuana right first.  I’ve always assumed that California would lead in this regard, if only because of our unique historical continuities and long lead time, but it looks like Colorado might get their shit together a little bit faster.

With all of the focus on how to regulate medical marijuana, it’s also worth considering what comes after.  Russ Belville, the host of NORML Show Live, had an interesting editorial a little while back, published on the Huffington Post, on the problems inherent to the medical marijuana stalking horse.   He argues that state-by-state gains in Medical Marijuana are actually counter-productive to the eventual legalization of marijuana for all, leading to increasingly onerous regulation (and idiocy).    Maybe he’s right – that the time to shift from a strategy of “decriminalization for the most needy (with exceptions)” to a broader strategy of “re-legalization for all” is now.  There’s firm public support for legalization, across a range of demographics, and the Feds are largely hemmed in by Holder’s stated position.  Even if that is the case, though, having a sound platform of widely-accepted regulation probably won’t hurt.   I’m all for the end of dumb public policy, but that doesn’t mean that I want pot shops to take the place of liquor stores.

In the meantime, I hope Obama and Holder can keep their dogs leashed.   And if that means arguing from a position of states’ rights, I’m all in, y’all.


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