The issue of marijuana legalization has become an issue of states’ rights, and states’ rights has become an issue that unites Americans from all walks of life.
The Obama administration, the U.S. Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder will soon release the official federal policy toward state-sanctioned recreational marijuana, which is sure to stoke the fires of controversy. Unlike the relatively quiet acceptance of medical marijuana, many believe that the federal government will not tolerate such an open and recreational use of the drug.
If that is the case, the issue of marijuana legalization will lead to a shift in power, as many Americans like myself see the state governments as a more direct form of democracy and the federal government as a more restrictive institution.
On Nov. 8 of last year, I woke up to the news that Colorado and Washington had legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
Overjoyed by the glorious revolution of personal freedom that had just occurred in these two states, my excitement was soon quelled by a more passive peak of interest: Two state governments had legalized the use of a substance in direct conflict with the federal government.
Of course, marijuana has been legalized for medical use in many states, which also contradicts the policies of the federal government. But this a different kind of contradiction, perpetuated by the desire for individual liberty and freedom to participate in a direct, democratic means of government.
It’s a claim that citizens of the U.S. have the competency to consume and use a substance in a responsible, personal and free manner without any influence by the government.
It’s a claim that has united a whole spectrum of politically motivated Americans. Whether you’re a liberal or conservative, a Trotskyite or a monarchist — the right to get high has most likely become a burning part of your repertoire.
I’m not saying that all Americans want to get high; merely that some Americans have decided to create change through a more direct system of democracy.
States’ rights have been placed on a back burner as of late in American history. It is an issue that has not come to a front since the end of the civil war. And it would be irresponsible to deny the very real phenomenon that Americans have increasingly viewed the federal government as the one and true government.
Usurping power, the federal government has become a centralized control complex through the threshold of national policy and directives like war, food and drug policy and civil rights. The legalization of marijuana at the state level, however, could shift the responsibility of government back to the state level.
It’s fascinating to me that drug policy may shake the balance of power in national politics. Even more interesting is the effect such a change may have at the international level.
Marijuana will bring the issue of state power and rights to a front. It will be a sorely needed battle.
Too long has the federal government restricted the liberties of individual Americans by devaluing state power. The opportunity to really be a congregation of states rather than a centralized bureaucracy is now possible.
Certainly the federal government has been a revolutionary force for civil rights and corporate regulation, but with those issues waning and the proverbial success of marijuana legalization done at the state level, a very new America is growing.
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