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Fed marijuana policy breaks faith with public; legalization is the future





David Rauzi

“Thanks Obama!”

How often do you get to say that these days? But it was under his administration that a hands-off approach was given to federal marijuana enforcement, opening the doors to what is now a multimillion-dollar industry.

And now, the Trump Administration is lifting that policy, allowing U.S. attorneys to enforce the federal marijuana law.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) had an apt descriptions of the move as “disruptive” and “regrettable.”

Quite frankly, it’s just too late.

For the past several years, states have worked with their citizens on the process to legalize marijuana within their jurisdictions and to establish a regulated, legitimate commercial activity. Individuals have invested their lives and money into this industry from agriculture to retail. It has meant new jobs, and diverted that money from the black market into both government coffers and small businesses.

The threat of the fed resuming its crackdown was always there, but in the absence of that, the public both tolerated and supported it, and this fledgling industry continued to move forward, grow and thrive.

Now, a new administration, and much mouth noise on how we’re going to get tough on pot again. Sorry, but that ship has sailed.

The federal government gave up that right, and really their moral legitimacy, to enforce marijuana laws through the hands-off policy. To maintain this authority, it needed to exert its enforcement and punitive measures at the beginning of these legalization movements, to enforce federal law according to statute. Why? Because it’s the law, and as important, to show consistency to the American public.

Try raising a kid this way and see how years of no discipline and vague threats not followed through on, followed by a disciplinary crackdown, works for you.

Enforcement now – while legitimate – makes the federal government look petty, indecisive, backward-thinking. It gives the feel the fed is selective in what it chooses to enforce as law and when. It is disrespectful to its citizens who in good faith invested in the marijuana industry and complied with the rules established in their states’ respective laws.

Idaho doesn’t have a doobie in this fight, and in fact, a thriving national marijuana industry is more disruptive to us and Utah that find themselves islands surrounded in a sea of legalization. But respecting and supporting states’ rights to conduct such activity is beneficial for Idaho and the rest of the 50 to uphold that right and avoid its erosion by a fed always looking to encroach on it.

Legalization is the future (maybe not for middle-aged newspaper editors, but definitely for the younger generations crowding in behind them). Sessions’ action is an annoying dying gasp from those holding on to a policy that is due for the dust bin of history.


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