In some of the most uplifting news I’ve heard all week, 72% of Americans oppose the Federal government arresting marijuana users in Colorado and Washington, according to a recent Reason-Rupe poll. 68% of respondents also said the Feds should not arrest those who grow marijuana in Colorado and Washington, and 64% of respondents said the same for those who sell marijuana. All of these activities are still illegal under Federal law, but the citizens of these states don’t care. Neither, apparently, do about 2/3 of Americans.
So much for nullification of federal laws being outside the political mainstream.
Of course, for those within the ranks of the Republican Party who support breaking up the hegemony of national power, there is still significant work to be done. Back in November, a CBS News poll showed that only 35% of Republicans believe the President should allow Colorado and Washington to effectively nullify federal drug laws.
What’s most important here is not whether conservatives think smoking marijuana is itself a good or a bad thing; what’s most important is that they recognize that living in a federalized system necessarily entails allowing citizens of other states to control their own destiny. The Constitution leaves the state governments responsible for exercising the “police powers”: looking after the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of their citizens. There is absolutely nothing within the Constitution that authorizes the federal government to exercise any authority here.
If constitutionally-conscious conservatives are waiting for the perfect time to strike that first blow against the federal Leviathan, this may be it; 72% of Americans will stand behind us when we do.