National Review: Make The War On Drugs A State Issue

To be clear, National Review isn’t necessarily calling for the legalization of drugs. Rather, what they’re talking about is an end to the federal government’s prohibition on drugs produced and sold within a state leaving specific drug policy up to the various states.

And that makes a lot of sense:

A bill introduced by Reps. Barney Frank (D., Mass.) and Ron Paul (R., Texas) would remove the federal roadblock to state marijuana reform, and though the Republican House seems almost certain to reject it, the proposal deserves support from across the political spectrum.

While we would support the total demise of federal marijuana laws, this bill simply constrains the federal government to its proper role. The Constitution allows the federal government to restrict interstate commerce, and the federal laws forbidding the interstate transfer of marijuana would remain in effect. The feds would also still intercept drug shipments from other countries.

What would change is that states — if they so chose — could legalize pot that is grown, sold, and consumed within their own borders. The Supreme Court has said that the federal government may regulate not only interstate commerce, but any activity that has a “substantial effect” on interstate commerce. It has further asserted that pot that is never even sold, but grown for personal consumption and never crosses state lines, can in aggregate have such an effect and therefore may be regulated. But the Court has not said, as House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith wrongly asserted, that Congress must regulate so comprehensively.

It’s perfectly constitutional for the federal government to regulate what comes across the borders, and interstate commerce, but that doesn’t mean the federal government should. The feds can levy big trade tariffs too motivated by protectionism, but that doesn’t mean its good policy.

Really, the federal government ought to get out of the “war on drugs” business altogether. Let the states decide what drug policies they do and do not want to enforce, but as far as the federal government is concerned 40 years of the “war on drugs” (started during the Nixon administration) haven’t put a dent in the availability or use of drugs. In just about any community in this country, anyone wanting any narcotic from illegally-sold prescription drugs to heroin to meth can probably get it. And not only get it, but get it for cheaper than ever before.

We are losing the “war on drugs” in the same way the alcohol prohibitionists of another age lost the war on alcohol. At a time when our country is going broke, it’s time to wise up on drug policy.

Sadly, I think there’s been far too much empire building among the law enforcement bureaucrats justified by the “war on drugs” to make that a political reality.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • HG

    This whole thing is a mess.  The lines between controlled substances like pot, and pharmecuticals is becoming blurred.  Already in CA pot is legal for medicinal use but there is no scientific or gov’t oversight or regulation on production. 

    As far as legalizing or placing all controlled substances under state control, that is a bad idea for a number of reasons. 

    • Brent

      Such as?

  • Guest

    THey already do leave it up to the states.  The Fed still arrests people though.

    If I recall, it has been republican federal administrations that are most keen on federal drug enforcement. Perhaps there is a less credible and hypocritical source for an opinion piece like this, but I’d be hard pressed to name it.

    • robert108

      The Dems, having sold out to Marxism in the Sixties, embrace the Marxist view of crime; they consider it a result of “social disorder”(unequal distribution of income).  It is the Republicans who still recognize the reality of crime, and what it costs us.
      If you think we have a border problem now, just legalize drugs, and watch the tragedy unfold.

      • Guest

        No one is talking about legalizing drugs, they are merely talking about letting the states decide for themselves what sort of laws they would like to have.

        I know it’s hard for you to get your head around, as you have repeatedly showed.

        Your wanting to force other people to abide by your moral code trumps your preference for democracy and small government.  That’s not a ‘conservative’ where I’m from.

      • Guest

        you really need to do some research fella…in the few countries that have legalized all drugs they indeed have a far lower crime rate than we do…in fact i read they are even closing some prisons due to the lack of crimes…as for others who have legalized or decriminalized marijuana the sky has indeed not fallen but the opposite…you really need a clue…

  • Guest

    Legalize it all – and bury the corrupted pharmaceutical, timber and cotton/tobacco industries. Those industries are the only reason pot is illegal today.

    • robert108

      Wrong.  Every time the public gets to vote, legalization of recreational drug use loses big time.
      In fact, the hyperbolic claim of a “war on drugs” is propaganda; it would be more accurate to call recreational drug use a “war on children”.

      • Brenarlo

        Given the chance to vote with their money, they vote to use drugs every time.

        • robert108

          It depends upon what sort of foundation you want for your society: one composed of drug addicts or one composed of those intelligent enough to get through life without “recreational” drugs.  Murderers also vote for murder; does that make it OK?

          • Guest

            Booze?  Recreational drug #1.  Nothing to do with intelligence.  Smart people hit the bottle and idiots abstain.  They come in all colors, much to the chagrin of your mistaken worldview.

          • headward

            We’re all drug addicts.  Coffee soda, sugars, salt, cheese burgers, alcohol, tobacco, chocolate.  When is the government’s role to protect you from yourself?

  • Grizzler

    The war on drugs, and this of course means the “war on the citizens” of this country, is winding down. No amount of moralizing and fear mongering will change the tide. We cannot afford to continue to have the largest by capita prisoner rate in the world anymore. We cannot afford the billions of dollars law enforcement spends in utter futility. Colorado will legalize pot for recreational use in 2012. After that the walls will fall all over the country, mary jane will walk free once more, and the only people who will suffer will be the shareholders of the alcohol companies, big pharma, and the prison industrial complex that is helping to bankrupt this country.  
     This should never have been a federal issue to begin with. Give it back to the states, where it belongs.

    • robert108

      Thanks for your paraphrase of Lenin.

      • Guest

        Thanks for your paraphrase of McCarthy.  Thank god a real American smacked him the f*ck down.

      • Grizzler

        *Thanks for your paraphrase of Lenin.*Never heard of him. 

  • Cherz1967

    Rob.  Are you high?  Do you have any idea what the medical expense of long term pot use is?

    • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

      Dunno about Rob, but I’d like to know.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Is it more than the cost of long term cheeseburger use?

      Your argument is for making medical costs a collective expense instead of individual.

      • robert108

        Cheeseburgers are food; pot is a drug with no nutritional value.  False equivalence.  He didn’t say anything about “collective”, as an intelligent person might want to do a cost/benefit analysis to make an intelligent decision on the matter.  The expense is definitely individual, for the drug-using individual.

        • Guest

          Pot has nutritional value, if you eat it.  Duh.

          • robert108

            Thanks for illustrating the intelligence level of pot heads.

          • Guest

            your intelligence level really peaks there eh rob…what a closed mined individual you are…every time you post it is that much more evident you are a narrow minded reafer madness controlled sheeple…wake up man..it was all lies..research it and read befor you just spew stupidity and repeat nonsense issued by the goverment…pffft

        • headward

          Why does it have to have nutritional value?  Movies have no nutritional value.  We should lock up actors, writers, fans, and directors by your logic. 

          Should the government determine your comment has no value – therefore you should go to jail?

          • robert108

            Wrong.  Using drugs is a crime, eating cheeseburgers and going to movies isn’t a crime.  It’s not about the govt, it’s about the citizens who vote against drug use every time they have a chance.  We want the druggies locked up, to protect us and our children from their destructiveness and stupidity.

          • headward

            Using drugs is a crime, eating cheeseburgers and going to movies isn’t a crime.

            That’s the point.  There will always be stupid people doing stupid things.  Rock ‘n roll and shaking of the hips were corrupting yesterdays youth.  People wanted it to be illegal for the same instance.  Today it’s volient video games.

          • Guest

            only stupidity i see is what you are spewing…

  • Ronst

    And hey, how about a little freedom for black market raw milk?

    • Guest

      Ain’t hard to get where I’m from.  The Mexican cartels control the whole place though (not).

      • robert108

        Just part of the collateral damage from recreational drug consumption.

  • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

    “National Review isn’t necessarily calling for the legalization of drugs.”

    As I recall, William F. Buckley did about 40 years ago. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3OH6SDGqcM
    See also: Diseasing of America by Stanton Peele.

  • Bat One

    I can live with drug legalization… as long as I have the right to protect myself, my family, and my property by the use of deadly force if I feel it is appropriate, and not one penny of my tax money goes to support anyone’s drug rehabilitation.

    • robert108

      I’ll vote for that!

    • HG

      I have a hard time with making pharmicists out of drug cartels and their ilk.  These are cop killing cold-blooded murderers.  Their network of drug pushers target everyone including the youth.  We’re making a deal with the devil if we legalize drugs. 

  • Guest

    Drugs should be legal because they are f#cking fun.  Stop beating around the bush.  If adults want to make the choice to use them, then they ought to be able to.

    THose which pose significant dangers to society ought not be legalized, or ought to be administered in a way that allows users to indulge whilst not endangering society.

    The legal heroin trials in Switzerland reduced property crime by what, 80 or 90%?

    • headward

      same reason we have rollar coasters.

    • robert108

      All “recreational” drug use poses significant danger to society, which is why we want it to be illegal.
      If you aren’t injured, why would you need a crutch to get around?  Because it feels good?

  • awfulorv

    If we’re to legalize drugs we must not allow the “Cutting” of the drug for additional profit. Like USDA graded meat, it must be the real deal.  As I see it, “the know it all” Leftists comprise the majority of the “Recreational” drug users in the country,   Allowed to use the drugs uncut, these fools will overdose in droves, and soon, before the Liberals realize what’s happening, large numbers of Democratic voters will be dead.  Now what could be wrong with that scenario?  Just a thought, why didn’t the “Outfit”  give away lots of free drugs at Chicago’s 68 convention?  That would have quieted things down, half the damned Commie druggies would have O.D.ed.     It’s how they always do things, they gorge on what’s available, till they burst.  Meanwhile we heartless conservatives sit back, invest in casket companies, in grave plot acreage, flower stores, and Limos, and laugh till we, ourselves, nearly die.

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