Tag Archives: nullification

Editorial; Marijuana nullification?

March 22, 2016

 

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up a challenge to Colorado’s voter-approved law legalizing recreational marijuana, but the legal question the case raises can’t be ignored indefinitely. The question is as old as the republic: How far can states go in substituting their own laws for those of the federal government? The issue of marijuana raises that question now. In the past it has been raised by the issues of tariffs, slavery and desegregation, and in the future it could come up in relation to anything from abortion to immigration.

The states of Nebraska and Oklahoma asked the court to overturn Colorado’s four-year-old law, claiming that it imposed costs on their law-enforcement systems. The lawsuit described the emergence of a $100 million marijuana industry in a neighboring state, and argued that “If this entity were based south of our border, the federal government would prosecute it as a drug cartel.”

Instead, the federal government has turned a nearsighted, if not quite blind, eye toward Colorado’s law, along with similar laws in Oregon, Alaska, Washington state and the District of Columbia. The federal government also has largely looked away from the more narrow laws in 22 states legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is categorized as a drug whose possession and use is prohibited under all circumstances.

The federal classification of marijuana is foolish, destructive and should be changed — but it’s still the law, and like other laws, foolish or wise, it is meant to be obeyed. Yet the U.S. Justice Department has told prosecutors to ignore state legalization laws, as long as marijuana possession, use and sale remain within a set of guidelines. Federal authorities will step in, for instance, to prevent interstate commerce in marijuana, or to keep the drug out of the hands of children. Within those guidelines, just about anything goes, as Oregonians can see from the proliferation of pot products and retailers.

The Justice Department’s permissive approach avoids a confrontation over the limits of state and federal authority. Such confrontations have occurred in the past. The friction goes back to the nation’s founding, when it was the states, not a federal government, that dissolved the colonies’ ties to the British crown and ratified the U.S. Constitution. In the early 19th century, advocates of state supremacy argued that states have the right to secede in response to what they perceived as federal overreach — a position that led to the Civil War. Figures ranging from John Calhoun to George Wallace have advanced variants of that idea, claiming that states have the power to nullify federal laws with which they disagree.

Advocates of marijuana legalization have not argued for nullification. So far the Justice Department, and now the Supreme Court, have sidestepped the question of whether nullification has occurred. But marijuana legalization laws such as Oregon’s can’t be squared with the federal Controlled Substances Act, and as a practical matter, the state laws have been allowed to prevail. Someone, somewhere, is bound to point to this as establishing a precedent for states’ right to set aside other federal laws.

If Oregon can legalize marijuana in defiance of federal law, why can’t other states make their own rules regarding health care, the environment or civil rights? It’s regrettable that the Supreme Court decided against hearing a case that raised such questions, because they are inherent in any state law legalizing marijuana — and, perhaps soon, in other state laws that openly conflict with federal law.

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Vermont Bill would Legalize Marijuana, Effectively Nullify Federal Prohibition

A bill introduced in Vermont would authorize marijuana to be taxed and regulated similar to alcohol, legalizing the plant, and effectively nullifying the federal prohibition on the same.

Senate Bill 95 (S.95) was introduced on Feb. 18 by State Sen. David Zuckerman (D-Chittenden). If this bill is successful, Vermont would become the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes through the legislature rather than the popular vote.

SB95 would allow “a person who is 21 years of age or older to possess limited amounts of marijuana for personal use, while retaining civil and criminal penalties for possession above the limits and for unauthorized dispensing or sale of marijuana” and would create “civil penalties for a person who is under 21 years of age who possesses marijuana or attempts to procure marijuana from a registered marijuana establishment.”

Under the bill, Vermont residents would be authorized to possess “two mature marijuana plants; seven immature marijuana plants; one ounce of marijuana; and any additional marijuana produced by the person’s marijuana plants, provided that any amount of marijuana in excess of one ounce of marijuana must be possessed in the same secure indoor facility where the plants were cultivated.” Nonresidents would be allowed to possess a quarter ounce of marijuana.

Dispensaries and retail marijuana shops would be allowed under SB95 if they pay the necessary fees and follow appropriate licensing procedures outlined in the bill. Marijuana distribution centers must be 1000 feet from schools and child-care facilities. Marijuana possession and distribution conducted in ways not authorized by SB95 would be punishable by a civil infraction, and then possibly jail time.

Bills like SB95 are sweeping the nation, and for good reason. Reforms like these can affect federal policy while circumventing the Washington D.C. power structure completely. The best thing about measures such as SB95 is that they are completely lawful and Constitutional, and there is little if anything the feds can do to stop them!

CONSTITUTIONALITY

Congress and the president claim the constitutional authority to ban marijuana. The Supreme Court concurs. However, nearly two-dozen states have taken steps to put the well-being of their citizens above the so-called federal supremacy by legalizing marijuana to varying degrees anyway.

“The rapidly growing and wildly successful state-level movement to legalize marijuana, either completely, or for medical use, proves that states can successfully effectively reject unconstitutional federal acts. The feds can claim the authority to prohibit pot all they want, but it clearly has done nothing to deter states from moving forward with plans to allow it, pushed by the will of the people,” Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin said.

The momentum is on our side, but Vermont cannot legalize it without your help. This effort needs your support to achieve victory. SB95 is currently in Senate Committee on Judiciary where it will need to successfully pass through before it can receive a full vote in the state senate.

ACTION ITEMS

If you live in Vermont, support this bill by following all the action steps at THIS LINK.

All Other States, take action to push back against the federal drug war at this link.

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The Nullification Door can Swing Both Ways

By Bruce Johnson  June 24, 2013

Patrick Henry, John Calhoun, and George Mason would be delighted that States are showing some backbone after 220 years of Federal power encroachment. States are again beginning to question Federal authority by, in effect, nullifying some Federal mandates. But the "nullification door" is swinging both ways. Is it not nullification of law by the Federal Government itself when they who hold the federal reins refuse to enforce the laws currently on the books? And when no enforcement of the law is at the whim of an administration, what recourse exists for the citizenry? For the States?

Both ends of the political spectrum have engaged in nullification, the rejection of Federal law. As noted in this piece by David Leib, the current focal points of dissonance between State and Federal revolve around a strange mix of topics; healthcare, guns, illegal immigration, citizen identification, and marijuana. We can clearly identify both ends of the sociopolitical spectrum and note they have become strange bedfellows in disobeying the federal government. Coloradans thumb their nose at federal marijuana laws while Montanans do the same with federal gun laws.

Mr. Leib in his article " Federal Nullification Efforts Mounting in States", lists a few of today’ de facto nullifications:

"About 20 states now have medical marijuana laws allowing people to use pot to treat chronic pain and other ailments — despite a federal law that still criminalizes marijuana distribution and possession. Ceding ground to the states, President Barack Obama’s administration has made it known to federal prosecutors that it wasn’t worth their time to target those people…

Federal authorities have repeatedly delayed implementation of the 2005 Real ID Act… about half the state legislatures have opposed its implementation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

About 20 states have enacted measures challenging Obama’s 2010 health care laws…

After Montana passed a 2009 law declaring that federal firearms regulations don’t apply to guns made and kept in that state, eight other states have enacted similar laws…"

But the nullification door swings both ways. As States issue an affront to select federal law, the federal authorities elected and appointed seem also to have some issues themselves with federal law. Even though they have pledged via their oaths of office to enforce these laws, when it serves their political purposes we often get nonenforcement. Despite vowing diligence there is a steady record that is in effect "legislation via non action" by federal agencies and apparently done so at the direction of the Executive and Judicial branches.

In some instances the federal authorities reject any local, police, or State assistance in enforcing federal law as in the Arizona illegal immigration situation. In many marijuana cases, the federal government seems uninterested that State law conflicts with the law on the federal books. Illinois and Chicago in particular drag out a federal mandate to comply with the Second Amendment. Yet most assuredly those same federal authorities will expect local enforcement of new gun laws in Montana.

When polling place violations go unprosecuted, when sanctuary cities invite illegal immigrants and guarantee no pursuit, when immigration agents are told to ease up, and when the War Powers Act that requires the president to consult with Congress but the president only delivers mere notification… are these not de facto nullifications of law?

When States detect that they are being harmed by new federal law, it is more justifiable for them to act than those oath obligated federal office holders channeling their political wishes by choosing which laws to enforce and which to ignore.

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people"

As Madison noted in his Federalist Paper #45,

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.".

Article I, sect 8 of the Constitution clearly delineates that which the Federal Government "can" do, and section 10 of the same Article clearly states what the States "can’t" do. State governments preceded the "federal experiment" and it was from these 13 States the powers so delegated to the "federal experiment" originated. But now add in the Supremacy Clause noting State law can not be in conflict with Federal Law, and if such occurrence arise, Federal law will be "supreme’. More complications arise when the powers of Article I, sect 8 are deemed unbound by how activists interpret the "necessary and proper" clause. All of this sets before us a cauldron of countervailing double- entendre laden documents that often seem internal contradictory. Is it a ‘mish mash’ or a brilliant work of governance?

The Federal Papers lend guidance to the Constitution. These papers fill in the gaps and clarify instances in which the English language within the Constitution sometimes falls short. In Federalist #32 and #33, Hamilton, a devout federalist, points to a certain sovereignty status retained by the States.

32nd:

As the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, exclusively delegated to the United States.

Today’s resurgence of nullification of federal law by the States is perhaps the greatest since 1861. John C. Calhoun led a nullification movement in South Carolina in 1832 regarding the collection of federal tariffs on imports. Prior to that, there were the instances of opposition to a National Bank, New England’s opposition to the War of 1812 voiced in the Hartford Convention and also New England’s opposition to the Mexican War and their sending of troops to that effort. Thomas Jefferson himself led nullification efforts in 1798 with the Kentucky Resolution in which "the states had the right and the duty to declare unconstitutional any acts of Congress that were not authorized by the Constitution". Madison followed with the Virginia Resolution in the same spirit.

"If prudently limited and wisely directed, almost any government can be a blessing; yet unless firmly constrained, any government of whatever form will tend to augment its powers in excess, going beyond even the plainest legal limits on its just authority, and will sooner or later become dangerous." Thomas Jefferson (A Constitutional History of Secession, Graham)

Nullification has three stages. (as noted by Graham pp. 108, 109)

Interposition: This involves the identification of the grievances by the offended party (State), adopted by the legislator of that State, and noting the unconstitutional nature of the proposed act by the Federal Government or by other States as being injurious to the offended State. A demand for "appropriate redress" is included.

State Declaration of Nullification: The State will call for assemblies and authorities within the State to then empower such bodies to then craft an ordinance of nullification.

Ordinance of Secession: If the ordinance of nullification should fail to restore proper balance between the Federal Government and the State, by act of sovereign power and ordinance of secession will be adopted.

Secession is unlikely today, but the concept was unresolved in 1861. State sovereignty was a more justifiable position. Virginia, Rhode Island, and New York all ratified the Constitution with the proviso that if they became harmed by the "federal experiment", they retained the powers to withdraw. To extrapolate, and because these ratifications were unconditionally accepted at the convention in which all States were equal partners, these rights to ‘withdraw’ radiated to all the States ratifying at that time.

State resistance to harmful federal legislation is an important component to our federal system. Nullification must be promoted cautiously but once committed, States must hold firm even if it draws an extortion such as the withholding of Federal highway funds. Turnabout is fair play, and as an administration selectively ignores passed law, States gain traction in challenging new Federal law. Principle must trump financial consideration and the promise that is our form of government must not be whittled away.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/06/the_nullification_door_can_swing_both_ways.html#ixzz2XB1xZEFz

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NJ Weedman – Ed Forchion Burlington County Trial

Ed

Ed "NJWeedman" Forchion court verdict: Ed "NJWeedman" Forchion talks before and after the verdict is read in his Burlington County jury trial on charges of marijuana possession and possession with intent to distribute.

 

MOUNT HOLLY — A jury convicted medical marijuana activist Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion of possession Wednesday, but could not reach a verdict on the more weighty charge of distribution.

Following the verdict announcement in Superior Court in Mount Holly, an uncharacteristically agitated Forchion, dressed in a white T-shirt with a green cannabis leaf pictured inside the O of the letters LOVE, challenged an assistant Burlington County prosecutor that he would be ready for a retrial on the distribution charge.

“If he thinks he can get me again, let’s go,” Forchion told Judge Charles Delehey in regards to Assistant Prosecutor Michael Luciano. “I would go tomorrow.”

Forchion, who is representing himself, shot down his court-appointed lawyer’s plan to file a motion to have the court dismiss the possession with intent to distribute charge, saying angrily that the process would only delay the resolution of his case. The motion would have had to have been heard before a new trial could begin on the outstanding charge.

“I’m stuck here broke,” Forchion said. “I want to get this over with.”

Forchion, 47, grew up in the Browns Mills section of Pemberton Township but later opened a medical marijuana dispensary in California. He was arrested in April 2010 when he returned to New Jersey to visit his children and was stopped in Mount Holly with a pound of pot in his trunk.

Since then, Forchion has heavily promoted his case in an effort to further argue against New Jersey’s marijuana laws.

“This is bigger than me,” Forchion said while waiting for the jury’s verdict Wednesday. “I’m not in here just fighting for me.

“It’s the cause. I’m on the side of righteousness here.”

In his opening arguments last week, Forchion boldly proclaimed to the jury that the stash of pot was his but he maintained that he never had any intent to peddle his “medicine” to others.

During the trial, experts from both sides presented their opinions as to whether there was evidence that Forchion was intending to distribute the pot.

CONTINUE READING STORY…

Reach George Mast at (856) 486-2465 or gmast@gannett.com

NJ Weedman – Ed Forchion Burlington County Trial

Ed

Ed "NJWeedman" Forchion court verdict: Ed "NJWeedman" Forchion talks before and after the verdict is read in his Burlington County jury trial on charges of marijuana possession and possession with intent to distribute.

 

MOUNT HOLLY — A jury convicted medical marijuana activist Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion of possession Wednesday, but could not reach a verdict on the more weighty charge of distribution.

Following the verdict announcement in Superior Court in Mount Holly, an uncharacteristically agitated Forchion, dressed in a white T-shirt with a green cannabis leaf pictured inside the O of the letters LOVE, challenged an assistant Burlington County prosecutor that he would be ready for a retrial on the distribution charge.

“If he thinks he can get me again, let’s go,” Forchion told Judge Charles Delehey in regards to Assistant Prosecutor Michael Luciano. “I would go tomorrow.”

Forchion, who is representing himself, shot down his court-appointed lawyer’s plan to file a motion to have the court dismiss the possession with intent to distribute charge, saying angrily that the process would only delay the resolution of his case. The motion would have had to have been heard before a new trial could begin on the outstanding charge.

“I’m stuck here broke,” Forchion said. “I want to get this over with.”

Forchion, 47, grew up in the Browns Mills section of Pemberton Township but later opened a medical marijuana dispensary in California. He was arrested in April 2010 when he returned to New Jersey to visit his children and was stopped in Mount Holly with a pound of pot in his trunk.

Since then, Forchion has heavily promoted his case in an effort to further argue against New Jersey’s marijuana laws.

“This is bigger than me,” Forchion said while waiting for the jury’s verdict Wednesday. “I’m not in here just fighting for me.

“It’s the cause. I’m on the side of righteousness here.”

In his opening arguments last week, Forchion boldly proclaimed to the jury that the stash of pot was his but he maintained that he never had any intent to peddle his “medicine” to others.

During the trial, experts from both sides presented their opinions as to whether there was evidence that Forchion was intending to distribute the pot.

CONTINUE READING STORY…

Reach George Mast at (856) 486-2465 or gmast@gannett.com

Marijuana activist ‘NJWeedman’ convicted of pot possession, jury hung on distribution charge

By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, May 10, 6:37 AM

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. — Jurors in New Jersey have delivered a mixed verdict at the trial of a marijuana activist who lives in California and goes by the name “NJWeedman.”

The panel in Mount Holly on Wednesday convicted Ed Forchion of possession of one pound of pot in the trunk of his car. However, they could not reach a verdict on whether he intended to distribute it.

The 47-year-old moved to Los Angeles several years ago to run a medical marijuana dispensary. He was arrested during a traffic stop in April 2010.

He could not use New Jersey’s medical marijuana law as a defense.

Forchion told The Courier-Post of Cherry Hill (http://on.cpsj.com/JhKWmV ) he was happy he didn’t get thrown in jail while he awaits a retrial for the distribution charge.

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Information from: Courier-Post, http://www.courierpostonline.com/