Josh Marshall is a very popular lefty blogger/pundit, and his comments on Prop 19 are a healthy reminder that liberals aren't always on board when it comes to marijuana reform:
A lot of people on both sides of the Prop 19 issue have written in with various points about Prop 19 but usually assuming that I personally supported it. I hadn't really focused on it much, honestly. But I think I probably would have voted against it. For two reason: First, unless I'm missing something, it amounts to nullification. The federal government seems like the competent authority to regulate this question, even if I think our drug policy is a disaster. Federal laws trump state laws, even when you don't like them.
I remember, many years ago, talking to my father about the idea of legalization. And bear in mind, my Dad, God bless him, smoked a decent amount of grass in his day, said he didn't like the idea. One reason is that he was already a bit older by that time. But he had this very contradictory and hard to rationalize position which was that he was fine with people smoking pot but keeping it at least nominally illegal kept public usage in some check. Again, how to rationalize that in traditional civic terms? Not really sure. But frankly, I think I kind of agree.
His first point might almost make sense, except for the very basic fact that states have different laws than the federal government. I've explained repeatedly how uninformed the "conflict with federal law" argument is when it comes to state laws reforming marijuana policies, but anyone who's ever heard of a medical marijuana dispensary shouldn't need my help with this. Obviously, Josh Marshall isn't aware that marijuana is already being sold from storefronts in California. Someone should tell him about it.
But that's just an embarrassing fundamental misunderstanding of the law, and unless I'm missing something, Josh Marshall isn’t a lawyer. What kills me here is his satisfaction with the possibility that our "disaster" of a drug policy at least keeps marijuana use "in some check." That's what Cheye Calvo used to think before some drug dealers randomly chose his address for a marijuana shipping conspiracy and his dogs got shot dead in a botched police raid. I hope nothing like that ever happens to Josh Marshall, but it would be great if he could find time to read about all the awesomely violent stuff police do each day to protect us from marijuana.
For more on Josh Marshall's impressively incoherent defense of marijuana prohibition, Jacob Sullum and Pete Guither have great posts.