Eric Holder (AG, US DOJ) recently sent an open letter saying that the federal government would respect the decision of states like Colorado and Washington (my home state) to legalize marijuana for personal use.
This is a good thing, since (not to get sidetracked) the states have often been litmus tests for change on the federal level, especially when that change is deeply controversial. Now, the federal government DOES have the right to enforce federal law in states that don’t recognize it, via their own law enforcement agencies and via punitive measures directed at the out of line legislatures of the offending states. This is (partially) how the civil rights movement got equal rights for citizens of differing nationalities and such in all fifty states.
However, when there is a populist movement to change or eradicate a law, the states often provide a good way to experiment with that change, and see if the results are more as predicted by the side requesting change, or the side asking for preservation of the status quo. In a nation as large as ours, a state can be the equivalent of an experimental group in a study. So I fully agree with and endorse Mr. Holder’s letter. I think that most people, if they approached the subject in that manner, would do the same. Even those against marijuana legalization might pause for thought when confronted with the fact that if legalization has more negative than positive outcomes in the states that have legalized it, that might very well lead to firmer strictures on drug possession and sales throughout the fifty states.
After all, the war on drugs has engendered massive amounts of pain over the years, not to mention casualties – I’ll give one example.
That example is Isaac Singletary. Isaac, an eighty year old man who was acting as caretaker for his sister and mother, saw undercover police, who were posing as dealers, attempting to make drug deals on his front lawn. Isaac first came out and yelled at them to leave. Of course they didn’t. So he went back inside, and returned with a gun in his hand, telling them to leave again. Without identifying themselves as police or in any way attempting to de-escalate the situation peaceably, one of the police officers opened fire, wounding Isaac.
I’ll say that again: A cop shot an innocent civilian; an eighty year old man who believed he was acting to protect his neighborhood from drug dealers.
Isaac tried to get away into his backyard, but the cops chased him down and shot him – again – this time in the back, killing him.
Five witnesses at the scene testified that the officers never identified themselves.
This is the inevitable result of the enforcement of laws making marijuana illegal. It’s horrific, unjust, and creates a well-deserved image of the policeman as a killer and a bully mad on power.
So the logical, informed people in the USA want to see if maybe legalization might result in less death and mayhem than the current state of affairs. Of course they would. And trial states like Washington and Colorado are perfect to find that out. Not everyone approaches things from a detached, impersonal, and clinical perspective, though. Not everyone is rational. And not everyone stops to think before they open their mouths and insert their collective feet.
And what a list of foot-breathers it is. Read more after the jump.