By Tank Murdoch
(TNS) According to an Associated Press story, the state of Oklahoma — very red, very conservative, but also very government regulation-averse — is becoming the pot capital of the Midwest.
In its story, the AP profiled a couple who lived and farmed pot in Northern California for two decades, but taxes, expenses, and regulations eventually drove them to look for a more economically friendly state.
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And they found it in the most unlikely of places:
They’re part of a green rush into the Bible Belt that no one anticipated when Oklahoma voters approved medical marijuana less than two years ago. Since then, a combination of factors — including a remarkably open-ended law and a red state’s aversion to government regulation — have created such ideal conditions for the cannabis industry that entrepreneurs are pouring in from states where legal weed has been established for years.
Though 11 states have fully legalized marijuana for recreational use, Oklahoma’s medical law is the closest thing to it: Anyone with any ailment, real or imagined, who can get a doctor’s approval can get a license to buy. It’s not hard to do. Already, nearly 6% of the state’s 4 million residents have obtained their prescription cards. And people who want to sell pot can do it as easily as opening a taco stand.
“Oklahoma is really allowing for normal people to get into the cannabis industry, as opposed to other places where you need $20 million up front,” said Jessica Baker, who moved there with husband Chip.
While we’re all for entrepreneurial enterprises, the big, fat elephant in this marijuana room is the fact that recreational pot use still remains a huge violation of federal law.
Even Obama knew that. Remember when a few western states first passed recreational pot laws? The 44th president shrugged them off.
“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” he told Babs Walters in December 2012. NPR noted further:
Though it’s still a federal crime to use or possess pot, “it would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal,” the president tells Walters.
Well, then, states have determined it’s legal. That’s the end of it then, right? Finally, Obama accepted the founding principles of federalism!
Only, riddle us this: If the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause gives the federal government ultimate authority to say that other drugs are illegal to use such as heroin, crack cocaine, and illegally purchased opioids, why is it okay for states to flout the federal law against recreational pot use?
Now don’t get us wrong. We believe it should be up to individual states to decide if they want to allow it. Pot is a drug, sure, but it’s not a deadly addictive drug causing tens of thousands of deaths annually, let along major healthcare expenses.
But at a time when states and localities are increasingly flouting whatever laws they decide they want to flout, it undermines all rule of law.
Because either laws matter and should be enforced…or they don’t.
It is hypocritical for Republicans in Congress, as well as the Justice Department, to complain about “sanctuary cities” for illegal aliens, but then look the other way when states blatantly violate laws against recreational marijuana use.
It’s hypocritical for Democrats in Congress and blue states to complain about “gun sanctuaries” but then flout laws against recreational marijuana use.
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This isn’t a ‘pot’ issue as much as it’s a ‘rule of law’ issue. So one of two things needs to happen: Either Congress should pass legislation allowing states to decide for themselves if they want to get into the recreational pot business, or the Justice Department needs to step up and enforce existing laws on the books.
We can’t complain about lawlessness and then look the way when it’s convenient to do so.
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