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The States Don't Need Federal Permission to Legalize Marijuana

Submitted by smorgan on
I'm not sure I understand what Mark Kleiman means by this:

California Assemblymember Tom Ammiano has introduced a bill to legalize cannabis in California. The bill quite sensibly recognizes that California can't have a legal market while the drug remains banned under federal law…

Why not? California has a legal market for medical marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law. There has been federal interference, but the vast majority of dispensaries in California remain in operation. Patients can generally obtain medicine legally and conveniently, despite anything and everything DEA has done to undermine California law.

I'm sure the DEA would like us to think that we can't legalize marijuana, and that might go a long way towards explaining why they keep doing these ridiculous raids that everyone hates. But there is no reason that California or any other state can't legalize marijuana as long as the votes add up. Sure, the feds will likely show up and makes a mess here and there, but in case nobody noticed, those actions consistently lead to greater public support for changing marijuana laws.

If we've learned anything from what's been happening in California for the past decade, it is that the federal government can't even come close to stamping out marijuana reform at the state level. Imagine this:

1) California voters pass ballot initiative creating regulated marijuana sales.
2) Shops begin opening in LA, San Francisco.
3) DEA raids high-profile operations, big headlines, big protests.
4) Federal charges brought against defendants. First jury trial ends in surprise acquittal.  
5) Number of new businesses opening exceeds number of raids being conducted.
6) Voters in Nevada, Oregon pass ballot initiatives creating regulated marijuana sales...

Is any of this impossible?

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