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State voters overruling feds is not ‘mob rule’

January 2, 2019

Re: “Majority rule lacks the science,” Opinion, Dec. 23:

Alan Preston makes a number of claims in this commentary. There is a lot to unpack.

He states, “If a majority of voters decide that marijuana is appropriate, they can legalize marijuana through a process I call ‘mob rule.’ I am not convinced this is an appropriate way to legalize a Schedule 1 substance.”

First, marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin, LSD and ecstasy. Schedule 2 drugs include cocaine, oxycodone and fentanyl. Some of these Schedule 2 drugs are significant players in the opioid crisis. Marijuana has helped people get off opioids, and nobody has ever died from a marijuana overdose, yet marijuana is classified as more dangerous. Did scientists determine the drug schedules? Was there pressure from pharmaceuticals to prevent marijuana from competing with their drugs?

Second, he may call it “mob rule,” but “mob rule” would involve the majority forcing their will on the minority. This is “mob UNrule,” telling the government to stay out of our lives.

He also states, “We are witnessing increasing nullification of federal laws by states and cities throughout the country. Our country was founded on the principles of law and order, and the nullification of federal law is a disturbing trend.”

He may be disturbed by nullification, but the Constitution was agreed to by the states. The federal government is limited to the powers in Article 1. The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, written by Thomas Jefferson, called for the states to nullify unconstitutional laws. Since the Constitution does not give the federal government the power to regulate drugs, the states are right to nullify drug policy.

Think of it this way: You take your car into the shop for engine repair and the shop decides to paint your car as well. This is beyond the scope of the agreed contract. Similarly, the states formed the federal government with specific powers enumerated in Article 1. When the federal government goes beyond those powers, the states have the right to declare those actions unlawful.

He next states, “There are reasons we have a federal government to help standardize and manage certain aspects of our civil society. States have separate rights, as enumerated in the Constitution … As much as I believe in individual freedom and liberty, I do believe there are times when it is necessary to centralize policymaking. The Constitution gives broad enumerated power to the federal government to regulate commerce (i.e., the Commerce Clause).”

If Mr. Preston truly believed in individual freedom and states rights, he would want the federal government to adhere to the Constitution and let the states perform their rightful functions.

As James Madison said, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce. … . The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives and liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.”

Thomas Nichta lives in San Antonio.

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