January 31, 2013

Clash of Federal vs. State Laws: US Completely Arbitrary

By EconMatters


Should I race across state lines with a bag of weed in the car?

With the passage of two states Colorado and Washington in the last election cycle to allow for recreational uses of marijuana without a prescription or medical excuse which is in violation of Federal Law. With states like California and Montana voting for medical marijuana but fearing a fight with federal law officials even with this baby step it seems that laws are becoming even more arbitrary by the day.  

President Obama has come out and said he isn`t going to go after Colorado and Washington for a violation of federal law, even after his administration only two years ago was strong arming and threatening California and Montana for a “lesser” violation of federal law.

It does seem that the will of the people if we go by media coverage, mainstream pot portrayal/acceptance in movies and music, simple demand for the product, etc. that a significant amount of US citizens accept that recreationally using the drug is ethically, morally and legally right.

In short, public opinion has turned in this country, not that you can get a majority on any issue in this country, but that more Americans view Marijuana usage on a par with adult alcohol consumption recreationally. 

Do Laws have a shelf life?

It isn`t just marijuana as states have recently been voting for state online gambling whether it be New Jersey, Las Vegas or other states like Virginia that seek increased tax revenue from these activities. With the advent of the internet and its capabilities often clashing with archaic laws and regulations written well before modern technological and civilization advancements in this area.

It just seems that Federal authorities, legal scholars, and the Supreme Court need to take a hard look at some of the arbitrariness of these old and ancient laws that don`t really fit nicely with current legal interpretations of the internet and modern society. 

The DOJ seemed to back off somewhat from some of their initial hardline stance regarding online poker in settling with Full Tilt and Poker Stars in the classification of their wrongdoing. But it remains to be seen if Online Poker in this country is a violation of federal law if the case was ever taken to the Supreme Court.

A Good Precedent to have open Violation of Federal Law? 

But how can you have states practicing activities which are in direct violation of federal law on one hand, and not go after them, but on the other hand go hard after poker players playing online in a virtual world with no state or country boundaries, when gaming has been legal and is legal in several states to varying degrees like New Jersey, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Nevada? The current government stance on Marijuana and Online/Casino Gaming is making their position from a legal standpoint look completely arbitrary and lacking in credibility. 

The slippery slope of the “Arbitrariness Path”

The real problem with this approach is that once a government goes down the “Arbitrariness Path” the unintended consequences are that other more conventionally and socially accepted laws start to lose their credibility and become just as arbitrary. It is one slippery slope that the United States is on right now if we throw into the mix the constitutionality of Obama Care, Gun Control, and various Taxing Mechanisms.

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