Why the Cory Booker/Rand Paul Medical Marijuana Amendment Is Right

Cathy Reisenwitz

6/23/2014 12:01:00 AM - Cathy Reisenwitz

On Friday, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Corey Booker (D-NJ) offered a medical marijuana amendment on the floor of the Senate. The bill is a massive win for states’ rights, as it outlaws the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency from undermining state marijuana laws and prohibits the DEA from interfering with the production of hemp in states where it is legal.

There is simply no reason the federal government should be trampling over state laws to perform armed SWAT-team raids on state-legal medical marijuana dispensaries. Destroying property and hauling entrepreneurs off to jail is not the proper role of the federal government.

In addition, these federal laws get between patients and their medicine. Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin has written for this site about why she supports legal medical marijuana:

More than 15 years ago in Seattle, while working at The Seattle Times, I met an extraordinary man who changed my mind about the issue. Ralph Seeley was a Navy nuclear submarine officer, pilot, cellist and lawyer suffering from chordoma, a rare form of bone cancer that starts in the spine. He had undergone several surgeries, including removal of one lung and partial removal of the other, and was confined to a wheelchair.

Chronically nauseous from chemotherapy and radiation, weak from a suppressed appetite, and suffering excruciating pain, Seeley turned to marijuana cigarettes for relief.

Contrary to cultural stereotype, Seeley was far from "wasted." While smoking the drug to reduce his pain, he finished law school -- something he couldn't have done while on far more powerful "mainstream" narcotics, which left him zonked out and vomiting uncontrollably in his hospital bed after chemo.

And she describes what’s at stake when the feds ignore what states want to fight the costly and ineffective War on Drugs (which is actually a war on patients).

When you get past all the "Rocky Mountain High" jokes and look past all the cable-news caricatures, the legalized marijuana entrepreneurs here in my adopted home state are just like any other entrepreneurs: securing capital, paying taxes, complying with a thicket of regulations, taking risks and providing goods and services that ordinary people want and need. Including our grateful family.

Nothing about the way the War on Drugs has been prosecuted passes the small-government or, for that matter, common-sense test.

Jailing small business owners who are operating according to the laws in their state? Fail. Distorting police incentives to ignore violent and property-related crimes to go after petty drug possession? Fail. Creating the world’s largest prison population, which is taxpayer-funded? Fail. Justifying laws which allow police to steal people’s property, including their cash and cars, without ever charging them with a crime? Fail. Allowing the DEA to work with the NSA to comb through phone, email, and social media records to find low-level drug dealers without ever needing a warrant? Fail. Arming police departments with tanks, machine guns, and SWAT gear which are used mostly to bust casual pot users and shoot their dogs while they’re at it? Fail. Fail. Fail.

Rand Paul and Corey Booker are doing great work by reining in the overgrown DEA and putting a check on federal power. Ultimately, the DEA needs to be disbanded and the entire War on Drugs needs to be relegated to the dustbin of history. But this is a good first step.