Prop. 19: Holder says no

The feds won’t acquiesce in legalizing non-medical commercial cannabis production and sale.

Unsurprisingly, Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the Federal government would not acquiesce if California decided to legalize recreational cannabis, as provided for in Proposition 19.

Some reporters are treating this as inconsistent with Holder’s earlier decision not to bother California’s “medical marijuana” industry, but that’s an error. No matter how transparent the fig-leaf of medical use covering the nakedness of the billion-dollar industry, medical use is exempted from the international drug treaties and the regulation of medical practice (as opposed to the approval of pharmaceuticals) has long been a state, rather than a federal, preserve. Just as important, “medical” cannabis sells at more or less full dope-dealer prices, while if Prop. 19 were allowed to take effect without Federal interference the retail price of high-grade weed would (according to RAND) be about $40 an ounce, more than an 80% discount compared to the current $300. At that price, California cannabis would flood the nation.

It wasn’t hard to figure out that the feds weren’t going to hold still for that.

But what does Holder’s annoucement mean in practice?

It means that the commercialization provisions of Prop. 19 – taxation and regulation via local option – are a dead letter. Presumably the Justice Department would ask for an injunction barring any California official from issuing a license – in effect, a license to commit a federal felony – under Prop. 19, and I expect that the courts would issue such an injunction. Even if no injunction issued, any grower or retailer who filed California tax or regulatory paperwork would be confessing to a federal felony. So there wouldn’t be open commercial growing or (non-medical) sale.

That doesn’t effect the home-growing provision of Prop. 19: anyone who owns or leases property could grow one 5’x5′ plot per parcel. Since that activity will be legal under state law, state and local cops won’t be able to investigate, and there’s no way the feds have the resources to deal with 25-square-foot grows.

The big question left unresolved by Holder’s announcement is the behavior of state and local cops with respect to commercial growing and (non-medical) retailing. If no county or municipality can issue a license, that activity will remain illegal in California. If California law enforcement continues to enforce those laws vigorously, nothing much will change. If not, there’s no way to put enough Federal resources in the field to make up for the absence of state and local enforcement, and California will become the cannabis supplier to the rest of the country, and probably Canada.

I still have no idea whether the proposition is likely to pass, though InTrade gives it two chances in three. Nor do I know how I’m going to vote on it, though the more likely it is to pass the less inclined I will be to help.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

39 thoughts on “Prop. 19: Holder says no”

  1. So there wouldn’t be open commercial growing

    Great respect, but there are two 20 x 40 foot greenhouses in the field below our house: open commercial growing has been a fact of life in the Emerald Triangle for at least the last two years.

    And if the feds really think they are going to put a clampdown on the tens of thousands of open grows in this region, they're gonna be bringing all the boys and girls home from Iraq and Afghanistan a lot faster than most of us think. Just getting a handle on the massive, omnipresent cartel grows on the national forests and big industrial timberlands is going to take a brigade or two.

    I think you're right about most of the politics and policy issues, but I just don't see how the weed genie is ever gonna get stuffed back into the bong.

  2. That Mr. Holder said what one would have expected him to say given his legal and political roles is no reason for California voters to turn thumbs down on Proposition 19. I hope his words spur voters to a decisive vote in favor.

    Given that you appear to see little possibility of the cigarette companies moving in to a legal marketplace, which is one of your chief concerns if I read you right, I don't understand why you are so reticent. You'll vote in favor if it's likely to fail, but not if it's likely to pass?

    Come on man, if the states don't start the ball rolling the federal government will stay the course at the behest of entrenched money interests on every side, and to the continued detriment of our country and any number of others.

    The present situation represents deep corruption and extreme hubris. Start ending it, please.

  3. I found it interesting that Eric Holder studiously avoided committing the DOJ to a preemption legal strategy, even though that was the specific request of the nine former DEA administrators. He merely stated that a) DOJ would vigorously enforce the law against the production, sale, and possession of marijuana for recreational use, and b) they were "exploring all policy and legal options". Could it be that they are considering not stopping Prop 19 in the courts and instead using strategic prosecutions against large-scale growers, distributors, and retailers to keep the commercial sector underground? That course of action would probably offer the advantages of a) not risking a legal defeat that could tie down the DOJ further down the road, and b) more importantly, not openly antagonizing young Democratic voters that, in increasing numbers, support marijuana legalization. Ultimately, I tend to believe the decision might be swayed by political reasoning: if, on November 3, there is compelling evidence that Prop 19 was useful in bringing out the Democratic vote, Holder could likely be under pressure to take the quieter and least confrontational road.

    Best regards.

  4. If they would at least not raid peaceful, open businesses in paramilitary gear that would be an improvement. Ordering the feds to bust in the chill manner might even soften them up to reality.

  5. So, let's see: The current price of medical marijuana (no need for scare quotes) is equal to the price of illicit pot. If 19 passes, it will drop by 80%. This would imply that there was sufficient home grown to displace 8 times the volume of non-MM pot, using standard economic reasoning. Now, for that to happen, California would have to grow all that pot in 25 sq. foot backyard plots. Really? I live on a 1/3 acre lot, and a 5×5 foot grow plot would wipe out a chunk of my backyard. Now we're going to have most of the suburban yards being cleared for growing? (look at the demographics, and notice that the bulk of people live not in the country, but in the inner cities, where, presumably, hey have no access to large places to grow weed.

    2 other things: most people can't grow a tasty tomato, so what makes anyone think they can grow decent enough weed to 1) have enough for their own use, and 2) that anyone would buy? LEt alone that they would have to be able to sell it to fulfill the RAND corp's fever dream.

    ANd if they can, they will be buying a VAST amount of gardening products. Which ARE taxed.

  6. Federal law may well trump state law and if our economy was not in the hole it would have a little more impact. Our government cannot foot the bill for the programs now,this next budgeting process will show exactly what that means.

    We have more homeless people than we have ever had before and the mortgage foreclosures are goung to put hundreds of thousands more either moving in with relatives or on the streets. Extensions on unemployment benefits are winding down and congress has already stated that they cannot afford to extend them anymore.

    And in the middle of all that,the DEA is going to hire enough officers and pay the expenses of them living and working in CA while they bust the big grows and any retail outlets they can find. I don't think so.

    And if they start busting the large commercial grows,then the small guerrilla growers will be in the catbird seat. The sheer expense of the federal government coming into CA and arresting,prosecuting and imprisoning marijuana violators will stop the procedure of it's own accord.

    This show of force also placates Calderon. It assures him that our government is going to underwrite one of his countries main source of income.

    All those billions of dollars going to the cartels for marijuana feeds millions of Mexicans.

  7. All these reasons why nothing can be done about a situation that's both preposterous and disastrous.

    A century from now, folks will recall the old-time ban on marijuana the same way that we remember Prohibition, Comstock censorship, the Vietnam War, the Scopes monkey trial or the pre-Griswold bans on birth control … What on earth were those people thinking?

    And all along the path from now until then, authority figures will assure us that change is inconceivable.


  8. Passing By, you're right, but I hope that you don't think that, a century from now, the world will be a better place. Some other insane reason to ruin people's lives will have replaced marijuana prohibition.

  9. Get away from your tunnel vision. This isn't just about drugs, people. The Feds are saying that IF you vote in a fashion they dislike, they will bring the hounds of hell down upon you. That could be for ANY DAMNED THING they deem desirable. What's next? Doing away with the actual act of voting? This isn't personal, departmental or governmental. It is the sound of ALL Democrats jackbooting in step under the same banner and listening to the same drummer. I'll never vote for one again and will do all within my power to disuade others from voting for them. They are a pox upon our nation that must be extricated and done away with. Republicans, beware. Your necks may be next on the chopping block.

  10. "any grower or retailer who filed California tax or regulatory paperwork would be confessing to a federal felony"

    This particular point is unconvincing, since it hasn't stopped Harborside in Oakland and other dispensaries from contributing millions to public coffers in California.

  11. Cities and counties could use the federal argument to opt out of allowing sales and taxing. This would limit need for federal raids to those counties which defy federal law and allow commercial grows. …I dislike the neighborhood grow idea–it's not a tomato plant. Believe me, children already know if a neighbor has a grow and there have been robberies and homicides associated with these home grows. Unless the price drops, the small grows could be vandalism magnets. I understand people want freedom to grow, but family friendly neighborhoods don't need drug gardens. As a parent, my voice is already drowned out by pro-pot propaganda. What if cities could legally regulate or tax the small grows with stiff licensing fees? Or assess fines for unlicensed grows? Also, the yield could be several times 1 ounce, which I'm told would be legal, so the 1 ounce carry is kind of a bait and switch. What will happen to all this yield? This prop is full of so much uncertainty that could cut many ways.

  12. It seems to me that to say you'll vote for a proposition only if it's guaranteed to lose anyway is pretty much the definition of a self-defeating strategy. If not masochism, I'd be interested to learn what might be the underlying logic.

  13. eb, I neither want to help pass a badly-designed law nor to express support for cannabis prohibition.

  14. Federal law can trump inconsistent state law. I can see where the feds can get an injunction prohibiting the state from licensing the growing of MJ. But federal law cannot force the states to enforce federal law, or to create law where there is none already.

  15. He is incorrect about the regulatory paperwork. The CBOE just wants to collect the money due from sales & use taxes and have acknowledged that filling out a form specifically stating that the vendor is committing actions which under the Federal code are felonies would be a confession, so they only require Cannabis vendors to submit the most general of information, such as stating that their business is selling herbs, it's perfectly legal to open a retail herbalist outlet. That's why the accurate statement about sales tax receipts is between $50 million and $100 million.

    …the board doesn't have more precise figures because dispensaries are not required to report the exact business they are in. Their taxes come in under several categories of business like “retail” and “pharmacy,”

  16. Justina, why in the world would you think they aren't in your neighborhood already? I've got some bad news for you sunshine, there are almost certainly grows in your neighborhood already and much larger than 5×5. Were Prop 19 pass and all the know nothings finally decide to accept reality your local government could sanely regulate the issue, requiring safety inspections etc. The single most likely tragedy that occurs from home growing is that people with no knowledge of electrical wiring can't call in an electrician to take care of that for them sometimes resulting in some spectacular fires. Especially if the growers are generate C)2 with natural gas or propane. Those tank go BOOM! in a fire. I believe if the house next door to you should burn down that your children could actually be injured because of that insanity. By themselves the plants won't ever find their way into your home and cause your children to become heroin addict.

    Justina's position is an example of one thing I never been able to figure out. The anti-Freedom people seem comfortable arguing from a presumption that the idiotic prohibition laws are actually having some manner of success. Nothing could be further from the truth. They seem to have themselves convinced that there are people who are sober as judges will take up pot smoking which could be the only true concern when the know nothings make the baseless assertion that cannabis use will increase significantly after Prop 19 is passed. I would expect anyone looking at the evidence objectively to see that any increase in cannabis consumption rates will come at the expense of people deciding that they like it better than their current drug of choice. There is no shortage of cannabis in California. It is preposterous to suggest making public policy based on the know nothing fantasies. Its been a couple of decades since any substantial disruption of the supply chain was caused by law enforcement

    Another thing Justina does is to put forth the newly discovered logical fallacy, an appeal to the cheeeel-drens. I haven't figured out why if they're so all fired worried about the children that they're lobbying for lower penalties for those who would sell to children. Justina, I sure would appreciate it if you'd explain why you want to go easy on people who sell to children. I am a pothead so you should talk very slowly and don't use too many words that have 2 syllables. Let's save discussing the significantly lower prevalence of recreational cannabis use among Dutch youth versus American youth for later, mmm-kay?

    We aren't going to go away. We aren't going to quit consuming cannabis. Your only practical choice is if you prefer to enrich and empower criminal syndicates by assigning the job of production, distribution and quality control, or license the trade to legal businesses. Unfortunately the criminal syndicates are the default if you choice is to not decide.

  17. Justina, my neighbor had an apple tree. When we were kids, we used to steal apples from his tree and turn it into cider. No one ever robbed us at gun point for it. Presumably because either buying or making their own was easier.

  18. What are the 'nattering nabobs of nullification'* saying about Prop 19? Do they think that if Minnesota can opt out of the Affordable Care Act, California can opt out of federal drug laws? Or does their theory of nullification apply only to laws that they disagree with?

    * an update of the phrase "nattering nabobs of negativism" made famous by Spiro Agnew and his speechwriters.

  19. Mark Kleiman said, "eb, I neither want to help pass a badly-designed law nor to express support for cannabis prohibition."

    Well, I'm sorry, but you need to do better than that. That's a real cop out. All laws have flaws. This law will not be in place for centuries. If it's got problems, they can be corrected. A badly-designed law that sendsa clear message you're claiming to agree with is better than the alternative. Get it passed, than work on fixing the flaws.

    If this proposition passes, it will be positioned in the media as a win for prohibition. You either support that or you don't. Get off the fence.

  20. "Do they think that if Minnesota can opt out of the Affordable Care Act, California can opt out of federal drug laws?"

    No one's opting out of the federal drug laws. As Holder makes clear, the Federal government can opt to enforce its own laws. What it CAN'T do is force a state to use it's own police and judicial resources to enforce federal laws.

    Congress could do some creative things like withhold highway funds from states that legalize marijuana, but they can't ever force a state to pass laws it likes. It can only prod and encourage by withholding funds or providing additional funds.

  21. Really? I live on a 1/3 acre lot, and a 5×5 foot grow plot would wipe out a chunk of my backyard.

    John, your spatial reasoning is atrociously bad. A third of an acre is over 14000 square feet, a 5×5 plot is 25. My parents have a quarter acre and a decent sized one story house. They probably 10 times that much space devoted to corn alone, in that's maybe a third of their garden, and they still have a sizeable yard. Furthermore, it would take a pretty prodigious pot smoker to smoke a 5×5 plot's yield, especially in a climate like California. That's way more than enough for several people, smoking daily.

    I have no idea how many people will decide to take advantage of the quasi-legal opportunity to grow weed, but except on the very smallest lots around I seriously doubt space limitations will have much to do with that decision.

  22. I remember my dad, when Nixon promised in 1968 to put 100,000 more policemen on the streets, saying that "The federal government has no role in policing American cities."

    And with all we've seen since, I tend to agree with his sentiment.

  23. Legalize it. Treat it like alcohol. What do I want the Feds to do? Take it off Schedule 1, that's what.

  24. DJW, you are a perfect example of the problem of believing that anyone whom you disgree with is of low rationality. Let's think this through: My lot is 13000 sq. feet. As you point out, a portion has a house on it. But you forgot some key things: another large portion has a garage, a swimming pool, a driveway, and miracles of miracles, a front yard. The total left after all this is 25 x 28 in grass, total in back, not otherwise used. This is not unusual in the nicer sections of Pasadena, but is in no way common for the whole area. That's 700 sq. feet. 25 out of 700 is 1/28 of the available space. So, to me, that qualifies as a chunk. Not to mention that even a 5×5 plot needs a fence to keep the dogs and children out, a path to it, room to move around and water, etc. All of this eats up more room.

    The REAL point that you missed is that while >I< can grow (even at a cost, which is what I said), most people in LA can't, because they have even smaller yards, or none at all. So the RAND corp and Prof. Klienman's analyses are flawed from the start, as most of the "growers" that they posit simply don't have room for an outside plot. Add to that that an outdoor grow is single season, along with my point that most people can't even grow tomatoes (yes, even here in So. Cal. you actually have to work a little bit to grow things to eat, as bugs and diseases have also learned that we have a great growing climate), and the reality that the amount of pot from an amateur grower isn't anything like the yield from a pro, and what you get is about 3/4 of an ounce to 3 ounces per plant, saying nothing about actual quality. If you cram in 20 plants, you'll have enough to satisfy yourself, and maybe a neighbor or two. Hardly the stuff of the headline "Backyard growers drive pot prices down, put cartels out of business."

    Now that THAT's out of the way, let's look at the rest of your statement,. "I have no idea…." RIght. So why finish it with an idea? THe whole POINT of the RAND study is that EVERYONE who has available space will take advantage of it to grow for sale, and this will inevitably drive the national prices down. What I tried to point out is that space considerations are MUCH more prevalent than that, because taking up a portion of what space you have had repercussions beyond that exact size: it's a matter of shrinking lots as well as simple size. Never mind that the perfect grow area is in the exact center of the yard, which makes its impact greater still.

    And, just because I can never resist poking Mark: I invite you to ask all your fellow professors how many of them would grow pot in their backyard if it were legal. My guess is less than 1/100, less than 1/20 of regular smokers. I asked around the people I know, and the basic answer was, "What, are you joking? When I can drive down and buy it? Why would I grow it?" I probably will, as my wife's arthritis tincture uses a lot of leaf, and that's pretty spendy. But then, I'm a gardener.

    Some of us have been thinking about this for years, and come to radically differing conclusions from Prof Kleinman.

  25. So a maximum size marijuana plot would take up about 4% of your backyard. I'm sorry, I can't see particular issue deterring too many people in your situation. My point was a profoundly minimalist one–that to the extent that people a) have yards to speak of and b) want to grow their own marijuana, I'm very, very skeptical that the opportunity cost of the 25 square feet will be a major factor in the decision-making of the vast, vast majority of those for whom both (a) and (b) holds. I have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of the RAND study that has you so worked up, and I suppose it's possible that on the margins the opportunity cost of land use will be relevant. (And, of course, you are entirely correct that many people who might be interested in growing their own pot don't have access to land at all; I never denied it.) That the opportunity cost of that trivial amount of land will be heavily discounted by most people who mean conditions (a) and (b) is, I fully admit, not based on rigorous social-scientific evidence, but rather two decades of regular interaction with people who enjoy smoking marijuana. Perhaps the extensive sample fro which I've drawn is deeply biased, but unless I'm given a good reason to believe it, which you have not provided, I'll continue to operate under that assumption.

  26. Well, the RAND sturdy was referenced in TFA, and formed the basis of Mark's (sorry about the extra 'n', Prof.) discussion. So if you haven't read it I assume it's because you don't want to.

    You can make whatever relative trade-offs you wish, but the point of this was for me to say that a) I have a lot more room than most people, and 2) the amount of usable space that I have to give up is non-trivial, and 3) there's no way for that to result in a wholesale lowering of producer prices. You argued that there was no trade-off, and I disagree. More to the point, a profoundly minimalist point as you state would have effectively NO effect on either use or sales, as the number of people who fit your criteria is, indeed, minimal in the context of Prop 19.

    I have no idea about the sample you drew from, as this was your first mention of it and it has no defining characteristics that I can see. Your original point, that your parents grow tons of corn on a 250 sq ft. area within a 1/4 acre is the only data you presented; I counter with my own. I have no idea where your parents live, but in Pasadena, the 25 sq ft plot is a river rock in a cake, as far as usability goes, in part because of building codes. Given that a large number of putative growers are parents with children, taking up a chunk of the yard is not a trivial choice, even if the physical number is only 4%, because of WHICH 4% it is. Be skeptical, but I'm one who WOULD take advantage if it works for me, and I'm telling you it's more of a big deal than you claim. 3 of my neighbors, several people at a local dispensary and a couple others TODAY gave me feedback similar to what I gave you (which also doesn't include any renters, BTW, whose leases will undoubtedly contain clauses prohibiting grows immediately after 19 passes, if it does.)

    Go get a dog pen, or other fencing and erect it in such a way for it to get good sun all day. Live with that for 6-8 months. Then report back as to the effect on your lifestyle. SInce, as I said, I'm a gardener, I do that all the time, and so the trade-off is real for me. I deeply doubt that many people will grow their own, and if they do, it will be once and done, just like the chicken craze that went around a year or two ago with the same approx. area. (Yes, yes, apples and oranges. Just pointing out that fads don't last.)

    Lastly, my house goes through about 3/4-1 pound/year- 12-16 ounces. Much goes into tincture, the rest is smoked. This is not an uncommon amount among the people I know; several who are in deep pain use significantly more. At the current 6 immature/6 mature legal level, we cannot provide enough for our own needs. I estimate we need to about double that. So, we would use more than 3/4 of the 25 sq ft. unless I push the yield.

  27. Are there no closets in California? No full-spectrum bulbs?

    If the economy in marijuana turns out like the economy in other herbs, one wouldn't expect to see home growing completely supplanting commercial production, just strongly supplementing it and changing the product mix.

  28. The feds made the EXACT same threats back in 1996. Medical marijuana legislation will be merely symbolic. Federal law will be vigorously enforced. No entity would dare establish regulations, and no proprietor would dare file tax information. Doctors will never issue recommendations for fear of legal action. All hot air, as a casual walk down the Venice boardwalk makes clear.

    They are no better equipped to stop proliferation of recreational use and commerce than they were to stop the medical marijuana boom a decade and a half ago.

  29. @ claygooding:

    I was agreeing with you, I think, until this blunder:

    "This show of force also placates Calderon. It assures him that our government is going to underwrite one of his countries main source of income.

    All those billions of dollars going to the cartels for marijuana feeds millions of Mexicans."

    True buffoonery. Marijuana receipts do NOTHING for the Mexican government. None of the 'billions' of dollars 'trickle down' to even one peasant.

    It is time to legalize everything (as successfully accomplished in some European countries) and be more compassionate toward those with addictions to truly harmful substances. Like alcohol. That prohibition didn't work either. If the Mexican drug cartels are your problem, legalizing and casting a light on the entire distribution of pot, will surely be the most affective tool for dismantling them imaginable!!

  30. Mark,

    You're a little off on what California law will require and what the Feds can do about it. It's impossible what a court will do in such a politically charged and unexplored area of the law, but an injunction seems unlikely

    Generally, California municipalities don't issue regulatory licenses to businesses. Municipalities do not check to see if a business has a legal right to operate a business or if it complies with any law when issuing its general business licenses. Illegal businesses get licenses all the time. For instance, every debt collection business is essentially "illegal" in that they are always violating federal or state collection laws. Every porn producer in the Valley is "illegal;" the feds could get an obscenity charge against them in Kansas in a second. Illegal businesses routinely obtain business licenses in every municipality. Instead, the basic business license is a revenue generating license providing for the privilege to operate a business.

    Just for perspective, a typical business license has the following information:

    1. the taxpayer's name (let's say, Kush Enterprises);

    2. the taxpayer's address and identifying information, IF ANY;

    3. the taxpayer's business classification (let's say, retail).

    Let's pretend Kush Enterprises actually sells marijuana. How is the federal government going to have an enforceable injunction, surviving both due process notice requirements and a balancing of the equities, to prevent that license from being issued? I don't see it.

    Perhaps if a municipality had a special tax rate for marijuana, the courts could enjoin businesses under that classification. I'd say even that's a reach. It would require the courts to prohibit someone's business before any evidence of wrongdoing occurred, and require the cities to use an unconstitutinal taxing scheme. At best, the evidence would show intent to break the law in the future (maybe). That looks like a pretty iffy case for an injunction, given that the feds can simply arrest the business principals if a crime actually occurs. (I won't get into arguments about forcing the state to police federal law, an iffy proposition already.)

    But who knows? It could happen.

  31. if Holder wants to turn Calfornians against Obama he couldn't do a better job. With his threats, small time illegal dealers will proliferate (the Feds don't have the manpower to go after them), and California will lose out on the huge tax revenue they desperately want and need to balance the budget. How many more voters can the Obama administration really turn off, especially the young ones, and still have a chance to govern?

  32. meander says:

    October 17, 2010 at 10:10 am

    "What are the ‘nattering nabobs of nullification’* saying about Prop 19? Do they think that if Minnesota can opt out of the Affordable Care Act, California can opt out of federal drug laws? Or does their theory of nullification apply only to laws that they disagree with?"

    Kudos for bringing the spirit of Spiro Agnew into the debate. A couple of minor alterations in the time line and that dirt ball criminal would have been POTUS. But still, his comment on the nattering nabobs of negatism is a classic in public speaking history. Right up the with 'I didn't inhale' and what you mean 'the definition of is is'. Don't blame me, I voted for McGovern.

    Where in the world are you getting the idea that California is 'opting out' of Federal laws against (some) drugs? Federal law will still be in force subsequent to the passing of Prop 19 into law. There's nothing in Prop 19 that says the Feds can't enforce their laws in California. You could certainly benefit and should consider a remedial course in civics. There is no Federal law requiring the various states to produce a duplicate of each and every Federal law. Are you aware that as far as the State of California is concerned the evasion of Federal income tax is perfectly legal? Have you ever heard of a state action against evasion of Federal income tax? How about high treason against the United States? Anyway, if you want to improve your understanding of what's required and what's not, Google the term "dual sovereignty" and follow it along until you get some understanding of the issue.

    Regardless, you're argument is a false dichotomy fallacy. One can certainly respect the will of the people and believe that the voters don't get to vote on basic civil rights like the reinstatement of humans being forced into involuntary servitude, or that people of color have to sit in the rear of the bus. It is entirely consistent to be of the belief that the court's overturning Prop 8 and Prop 187 proper and legally consistent with that right to vote in laws which do not violate the civil rights of some citizens. Nobody has a right to come into my home and to micro-manage my life. Nobody. I'll confess that quite frankly I've decided that universal health care would be such a boon to the economy as well as promoting better health for the general population that I'd be a blistering idiot to be against the idea. Every single reason why allowing the gov't to operate a chain of public schools is valid when discussing the net benefit to society of universal health care. Do you grasp that in reality we actually do have 'universal' health care but operated with an ungodly price tag to maintain the illusion that we don't? Silly arguments promoted an effete core of impudent snobs, as our friend Spiro would have said.

    Perhaps you can tell me of another law which almost 50% of the voters think should be repealed? How about the income tax? I get the impression that a lot of people don't like paying their income taxes. But in 2008 Massachusetts voted down a ballot initiative to repeal the state's income tax. It lost 70-30.

    Then on the same ballot those voters passed another initiative to decriminalize petty possession of cannabis up to 28.35 grams and implement a $100 civil fine. That was passed into law by a margin of 65-35.

    Not the laws against oral sex, the SCOTUS tossed those out earlier this decade. Perhaps before that in the past those in favor of decriminalizing oral sex in private between two consenting adults were more numerous than those who support the repeal of the epic failure of public policy that we like to call the war on (some) drugs. Though it does simply boggle my mind to think that there are people who don't enjoy oral sex much less want to come into my bedroom and prevent me from enjoying it. It's got to have been the Republicans that were behind that insanity being codified. They are actually lobbying to re-criminalize oral sex in Texas. What in the world makes people believe that the status of my genitalia is any of their business? Oh christ on a crutch, strike that last question, how do these people even come to entertain the notion that other people having consensual oral sex was something appropriately discussed by lawmakers while performing their function as law makers? Don't go conflating the decriminalizing of cannabis possession, distribution, and quality control with laws against acts that have a non-consensual participant because the only victims here are the victims of the enforcement of the immoral, proven failure of idiotic prohibition laws. Since 2006 30,000 dead right next door because of the idiotic support of these laws even in the face of mountains of evidence which proves that the prohibition meme just doesn't work, that it can't work, and that the cure is worse than the problem even if it did work. If someone looks at the state of the imbecilic drug laws in our society and finds the results of those efforts to be anything other than proven failure really needs a course to learn about the critical thinking process.
    "Texas GOP: Thou Shalt Not Go Down On Your Husband, Wife Or Significant Other"

  33. Wouldn't the fact that marijuana remained illegal in the rest of the US keep the price in other states far above the post-legalization California price, even if lower than the current price?

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