Legalize Weed By Not Legalizing It?

Today Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel approved the popular name and ballot title for a constitutional amendment that would decriminalize marijuana in the State. As a libertarian, I think this a fantastic idea because of moral reasons (self-ownership) and the economic reasons ($14 million in a month in CO). The amendment itself starts out promising.

An amendment proposed by the people to the Arkansas constitution to provide effective April 20, 2015, that the cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, sale, possession, and use of the cannabis plant (genus cannabis) and all products derived from the cannabis plant (genus cannabis) is permitted in every geographical area of each and every county of this state.

This is a strong start.

That for the purposes of this amendment, “Hemp” is defined as any part of the cannabis plant (genus cannabis), living or not, containing one percent or less, by dry weight, Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9-THC); “cannabis” is defined as any part of the cannabis plant (genus cannabis), living or not, containing greater than one percent, by dry weight, Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9-THC).

This part states that “Hemp” is anything with one percent or less of the psychoactive chemical THC, and “cannabis” is anything with greater than one percent THC, THC being the psychoactive chemical that causes the user to become high.

That the cannabis plant (genus cannabis) may be regulated but not prohibited by the General Assembly; and, that all laws in conflict with this amendment are repealed to the extent they conflict with this amendment.

As a libertarian, I’m obviously not a big fan of regulations from a moral and economic standpoint. This may open up the amendment to a massive tax which could essentially be prohibition. Even the following sentence, which states that any laws in conflict made by the General Assembly are nullified, doesn’t expressly inhibit the ability to prohibit through taxation. I feel this is a dangerous loophole.

Preemptive federal law will remain in effect unless altered by Congress.

And the entire amendment just became useless. By giving the federal government any legitimacy on this matter, the constructors of this amendment have basically nullified it. Cannabis is illegal under Federal law, and this one sentence allows the Federal government to enforce their laws upon the residents of Arkansas, even if the people vote to legalize all aspects of the cannabis industry. So while many people will be railing against the amendment because they live in the delusional world of Reefer Madness, those who are truly wanting to see the legalization of cannabis, whether for moral or economic reasons, should see this amendment for what it truly is: an absolutely toothless proposal that allows the Federal government to force its will upon the sovereign people of Arkansas. We need an amendment that truly nullifies the Federal government’s immoral laws, not lip service.


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