Federalism and Legal Weed

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Federalism and Legal Weed

What does Federalism have to do with Legal Weed? Well, considering that weed is still illegal under federal law, federalism has everything to do with legal marijuana.

A few days ago (December 4th, 2017), the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments regarding Christie V. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The “Christie” name in the case is former Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. So, what does this case have to do with marijuana legalization?

Brief History of Federalism

What is federalism? Federalism is a system of government that combines regional and state governments under one “federal” umbrella. The United States government is a federal system, but federalism means something different within the context of US history and law.

The United States has a history of restricting the power of the federal government and allowing the states to govern their territories. However, that has apparently changed over time with government spending and power ballooning to great highs. Nonetheless, SCOTUS has always been in the battle between federal and state rights and mostly making decisions that respect federalism, instead of commandeering (enslaving). Commandeering is when the federal government forces a state government to do something it usually would not.

 

The Case of Christie V. NCAA

In the case of Christie V. NCAA, it is a case of federalism vs. commandeering. The State of New Jersey legalized sports gambling despite it being illegal at the federal level. NCAA sued to say these laws violate the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which means that states are not allowed to  “sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact” sports betting. The NCAA is alleging that New Jersey’s laws are an “authorization,” hence illegal. A lower court did side with the NCAA, but now it is with SCOTUS so that they can make a final determination.

If SCOTUS sides with the NCAA, then that means the federal government could enact laws blocking states from legalizing anything that is already banned. That includes the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. So, we want federalism to prevail in this case.

Luckily, it looks like the justices will be siding with federalism on this issue. It’s not for sure, but according to the oral arguments, and Ilya Somin, it seems that the justices will vote in favor of federalism.

WeedUpdate from Around the Country

Delaware – This week, a panel was formed to study the effects of legalizing recreational marijuana in the first state. The report is expected next year.

Illinois – While there is an effort to legalize marijuana in the state, reports state that the governor is not all for legalization. The latest polls say that 66% of residents of Illinois are for legalization, the governor joins the ranks of other politicians that are disconnected from their constituents.

New Jersey – The new governor of the state, has previously stated that the state will have legal weed in the first 100 days he is in office. However, he is having some resistance from the state senate.

New York – Last week we reported that the majority of New Yorkers want legal weed. However, a new poll says that only 40% support marijuana legalization. According to the report, New Yorkers prefer decriminalization or medical marijuana instead of full-blown legalization.

Ohio – A rejected applicant is up in arms that the Ohio State employed a consultant that had a previous criminal record regarding marijuana. The named consultant was part a team of 3 that helped the state choose the 12 growers for the medical marijuana program. However, the state believes, rightly so, that the process was a fair process.

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Founder of WeedUpdate, Cannabis legalization advocate.

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