California Governor Says Feds Should "Respect" State Marijuana Votes

Responding to last Tuesday's votes to legalize marijuana in Colorado and Washington, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said Sunday the federal government should respect the states' rights to decide how to regulate marijuana. His remarks came on during an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday morning.

Jerry Brown (
"It's time for the Justice Department to recognize the sovereignty of the states," Brown said in response to a question from host Candy Crowley. "California has a medicinal marijuana law, other states have passed some other measures. We have a laboratory of democracy. We don't always agree with all states. Some states have capital punishment, some states don't. Some now have legalized marijuana -- small amounts for recreational use -- many states have legalized medicinal marijuana. I believe the president and the Department of Justice ought to respect the will of these separate states."

Brown said that even if marijuana remains illegal under federal law, Washington should let the states experiment with other approaches.

"I think the federal law can maintain, but it shouldn't try to nullify reasonable state measures," he said. "I'm not saying the state can do anything they want, but the measures that have been adopted so far have been after vigorous debate. In fact, there's been a marijuana legalization [initiative] in California and it was rejected. It's been rejected in other states. So we are capable of self-government. We don't need some federal gendarme to come in and tell us what to."

If the Obama administration is about to come down on Colorado and Washington, it should think again, said Brown.

"I believe comity toward the states, that's a decent respect, ought to govern the policy and that means change the policy now," the veteran politician said.

Still, Brown didn't sound especially eager to see marijuana legalized in his state. 

"I'm not prepared to bring that up," he said in response to a question from Crowley. "We already have a fair amount of marijuana use in the guise of medical marijuana and there's abuses in that field. And as governor, I review paroles for those sentenced for murder and I have to review the paroles and I review hundreds of them. And so many of them start with drugs, with marijuana, with alcohol, when they're 12, they're 15," he said. "So it's dangerous. And people should not in any way take lightly the power of chemicals, whether it be cannabis or something stronger to affect the human mind in a way that really makes desperate people far more desperate."

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He has the right idea

As Abraham Lincoln famously said, our government is "of the people, by the people, for the people."  Our leaders are public servants.  We elected them to represent us, defend us, and carry out our will.

If the current administration "won't consider" legalizing drugs, then the current voters "won't consider" reelecting them!  The current juries "won't consider" convicting!  The people control the destiny of this country.

Another thing Governor Brown is 100% right about, is that this should be a state issue.  I have no doubt that even if federal prohibition ended tomorrow, there are going to be states in this country where the majority DON'T want legal marijuana.  It should be a state issue... let those who want it have it, let those who don't keep it out.


I'm mostly satisfied with Brown's comments, although once again he makes a typical fundamental error.

He says,

And as governor, I review paroles for those sentenced for murder and I have to review the paroles and I review hundreds of them. And so many of them start with drugs, with marijuana, with alcohol, when they're 12, they're 15," he said. "So it's dangerous."

The truth is:

The gang culture has increased in wealth and influence because of prohibition. Gangs cause murders, not pot.

Still, Brown's comments are better than the usual cowardly/ignorant rubbish.

He reviews muder sheets and they started with...

Wtf? I'm sorry, he reviews hundreds of murder for parole cases a year, and there are millions of marijuana smokers past and present, himself included, in his state alone that didn't go on to be murders. What is this, the new gateway theory? Smoke pot, kill somebody... oh wait, that's old, but so old maybe it will sound new again? I'm sorry, Jerry might be somewhat on the right page of state rights, but that last bit was about just as bad as anything the right wing drug zealots would say.

States rights

As vilified as the words are States should have the sovereignty to decide how to take care of some laws.  We do this with guns (some states ban automatic weapons, states like Nevada still allow them) alcohol, prostitution, gambling and scores of other questionable behaviors.  It's worth giving states a crack at regulating this and has to be a lot cheaper than throwing everyone in jail.

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