Arizonans Dare to Defy the Feds Again!

by Derek Sheriff

Just when you
thought Arizona couldn’t get any more provocative, or push any more
of the federal government’s buttons, it looks like America’s 48th
state may actually become the 15th state to adopt another
very controversial law!

This proposed
law, on the other hand, may actually make some people on the Left,
as well as the Right, happy for a change. I have my doubts about
whether it will make those who put party above principle, or anyone
employed by the U.S. Department of Justice happy, however.

While Arizona was getting tons of media attention related to the passage of its high profile immigration enforcement law, (SB 1070), the grassroots activists that were delivering more than 100 boxes of petitions containing 252,000 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office received little.

But this week, Fox 11 Arizona’s website reported:

“Secretary of State Ken Bennett’s office on Tuesday certified that organizers of the initiative campaign had turned in enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot.”

What measure is he referring to?

The Medical Marijuana Initiative, of course! The initiative, which Arizona voters will soon have a chance to vote into law this November, would do seven things according to the Arizona
Medical Marijuana Policy Project’s website

  • Allow terminally and seriously ill patients who find relief from marijuana to use it with their doctors’ approval.
  • Protect these seriously ill patients from arrest and prosecution for the simple act of taking their doctor-recommended medicine.
  • Permit qualifying patients or their caregivers to legally purchase their medicine from tightly regulated clinics, as they would any other medicine so they need not purchase it from the criminal market.
  • Permit qualifying patients or their caregivers to cultivate their own marijuana for medical use if a regulated medical marijuana clinic is not located within 25 miles of the qualifying patient.
  • Create registry identification cards, so that law enforcement officials could easily tell who was a registered patient, and establish penalties for false statements and fraudulent ID cards.
  • Allow patients and their caregivers who are arrested to discuss their medical use in court.
  • Keep commonsense restrictions on the medical use of marijuana, including prohibitions on public use of marijuana and driving under the influence of marijuana.

The AMMPP, which is a grassroots organization, has been devoted to passing a medical marijuana initiative in Arizona in November 2010. As they explain on their homepage:

“Currently, seriously ill people who use marijuana on the advice of their doctor to treat illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis are subject to arrest and imprisonment, simply for trying to stimulate their appetite or alleviate their pain.”


People who often dismiss state laws allowing the use of medical marijuana always seem to argue that “federal law trumps state law” and that federal “laws” still prohibit the possession, use, cultivation or distribution of the plant, even for medical purposes.

It’s true that federal “laws” make no exceptions for those who are sick and suffering, and the Feds have claimed universal jurisdiction, even over plants that are grown and consumed by patients in their own home. But I wish more of these critics (and all Americans for that matter), would take the time to ask the following question:

“Which of the enumerated powers delegated to the federal government under the Constitution gives them the authority to prohibit the cultivation or use of marijuana at all, for any reason?”

It’s a fair question, and I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer to it. Michael Boldin, founder of the Los Angeles–based Tenth Amendment Center puts it this way:

“An honest reading of the Constitution with an original understanding of the Founders and Ratifiers makes it quite clear that the federal government has no constitutional authority to override state laws on marijuana. All three branches of the federal government, however, have interpreted (and re-interpreted) the commerce clause of the Constitution to authorize them to engage in this activity, even though there’s supposedly no ‘legal’ commerce in the plant. At best, these arguments are dubious; at worst an intentional attack on the Constitution and your liberty.”

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