Massachusetts Voters to Decide on Legalizing Marijuana This Fall, Despite Federal Prohibition

BOSTON, Mass. (Aug. 3, 2016) – The Massachusetts secretary of state has approved a ballot measure to legalize adult use and retail sale of marijuana in the state. This provides the opportunity to take another step toward blocking federal prohibition in effect.

Last week, the secretary confirmed The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has submitted a sufficient number of signatures from registered voters to put the proposal on the ballot in November. According to the Weed Blog, “Question 4, The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, permits adults to possess (up to ten ounces) and to cultivate (up to six plants) personal use quantities of cannabis and establishes licensing for its commercial production and retail sale. Commercial, for-profit sales of cannabis will be subject to taxation, while non-commercial exchanges of marijuana will not be taxed.”

Massachusetts voters have already approved marijuana for medical use, but state agencies and bureaucrats have resisted efforts to implement the program.

Voters in Arizona, California, Maine and Nevada will also weigh in on legalizing adult use measures of marijuana in November. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, Missouri and Montana will decide whether to legalize medicinal cannabis.

EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION

Complete legalization of cannabis in Massachusetts would remove yet another layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition would remain in place.

Of course, the federal government lacks any lawful authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

While Massachusetts law would not alter federal law, it would take a step toward thwarting in effect the federal ban. FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By essentially ending state prohibition, Massachusetts could essentially sweeps away part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

Massachusetts could join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition. Colorado, Washington state and Alaska have all legalized both recreational and medical marijuana, and more than two-dozen states now allow cannabis for medical use. With half the country legalizing marijuana, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more. The feds need state cooperation to fight the “drug war,” and that has rapidly evaporated in the last few years with state legalization, practically ending the ban.

“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” public policy analyst Michael Boldin said.