Americans are angry with their politicians but nuanced in their political opinions. Voters in Alaska simultaneously ousted their Democratic Senator and legalized the use of marijuana. Floridians gave 505,000 more votes medical use of pot than they did in re-electing Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley took their places on the pantheon of the Right while arguing against drug prohibition. The electorate appears to be moving their way.
Which makes sense. If you want to limit government and protect individual liberty, it’s impossible to ignore the ill consequences of arresting and imprisoning millions of people for using illicit substances. Drug use is bad. Arresting people for using drugs is worse.
But conservatives have another reason to abandon the drug war: federalism.
The Drug War has poisoned almost everything it touches. The rule of law suffers. Lawyers speak of the drug exception to the Fourth Amendment, since judges often sacrifice Fourth Amendment protections when drugs are involved. Police departments seize property—theft in all but name—allegedly tied to drugs without filing charges or even proving a connection. Cops admit to lying to justify arrests. Prosecutors acknowledge relying on dubious testimony to win convictions. Defendants serve mandatory minimum penalties for minimal offenses.
Constitutional interpretation is malformed. In Gonzales v. Raich the Supreme Court held that Uncle Sam could regulate someone who grew marijuana for personal consumption under the interstate Commerce Clause. Conservative jurist Antonin Scalia concurred in the opinion. His reasoning was used by the Left to argue that Obamacare was constitutional.
Read more via Will Federalism Trump the Drug War? | Cato Institute.