Donate to Reason! Because We Are Your News Source About the Struggle to Kill off Prohibition

Reason is in the final days of our annual Webathon, in which we remind you of our value proposition in order to get 800 small tax-deductible donations to keep our nonprofit journalism thriving for another year of Free Minds and Free Markets. It's not exactly 90 Days, 90 Reasons, but that's maybe because we've got some better reasons to loosen your wallet. For example, our coverage of the end of the Drug War.

Election Night was not yet over when Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, author of Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use, started spelling out the coming legal showdown between the federal government and the states of Washington and Colorado, which had just voted to legalize marijuana, a development Sullum righteously described as "an unprecedented change that could help lead our country away from the unjust, cruel, and disastrous policy of using force to impose politicians' pharmacological tastes on the populace." While the rest of the national media was still weeks away from coming around to questions of federalism, jurisdiction, and the Supremacy Clause, Sullum had already been all over it.

Marijuana will still be prohibited under federal law. But contrary to an argument made by opponents of Proposition 19, the California legalization initiative that lost by five percentage points in 2010, that does not mean the Supremacy Clause makes these measures unconstitutional. As Jonathan Caulkins and three other drug policy scholars note in their new book Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know, "The Constitution does not allow the federal government either to order state governments to create any particular criminal law or to require state and local police to enforce federal criminal laws.

Even under national alcohol prohibition, which unlike the federal ban on marijuana was authorized by a constitutional amendment, states were free to go their own way. They could decline to pass their own versions of the Volstead Act (as Maryland did), repeal them (as a dozen states, including Colorado and Washington, did while the 18th Amendment was still in force), or simply refrain from prosecuting people under them (which was common in the wetter districts of the country). "The question is not whether a state could change its own laws," Caulkins et al. write. "Rather, the question is how the conflict with the continued federal prohibition would play out."

While the feds certainly can make trouble for any state that dares to legalize pot, there is a practical limit to what they can accomplish on their own. According to the FBI, there were about 750,000 marijuana arrests nationwide last year, the vast majority for possession. State and local police departments were responsible for something like 99 percent of those arrests. It simply is not feasible for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)—which has about 5,500 special agents nationwide, compared to about 765,000 sworn personnel employed by state and local law enforcement agencies—to bust a significant percentage of people who grow pot for themselves and their friends (as Colorado’s initiative allows), let alone people who possess it for recreational use.

The DEA can raid state-legal pot shops, as it has done with medical marijuana dispensaries, but the number of potential targets will be considerably larger once the market officially expands to include recreational users. The Justice Department can use asset forfeiture as an intimidation tactic against landlords and threaten banks that accept deposits from pot businesses with money laundering charges. The Internal Revenue Service can make life difficult for pot sellers by disallowing their business expenses (but not, thanks to a tax law wrinkle, their "cost of goods sold," which includes the cost of buying marijuana). The feds could even threaten state regulators with prosecution for handling marijuana or facilitating the trade, although that seems less likely, since it would provoke a direct confrontation with state officials. (Washington's initiative seeks to minimize this risk by assigning the task of testing marijuana for regulatory purposes to private, state-approved laboratories.) The one thing federal drug warriors cannot do, judging from their track record even when they have the full cooperation of state and local law enforcement agencies, is suppress the business entirely.

This is a level of legal sophistication that the likes of Rolling Stone magazine is unable to reproduce. And here at Reason, we are stone-cold committed to covering every new development in this historic showdown, and using our access to various broadcast outlets to trumpet far and loud the preference for freedom over mindless, murderous tyranny. As I said yesterday during a wide-ranging, 20-minute conversation about pot legalization on MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry show, the question will soon boil down to who in the government will want to be known as the last one to burn a witch:

We still have more than 700,000 people a year coming face to face with the justice system in America over marijuana. That is an outrage, it should be an outrage on everybody’s conscience. These are people who will have a criminal record for the rest of their lives. They won’t be able to get a job. It disproportionately affects poor minorities, always has, always will even though they don’t smoke it any more than white dudes with beards. It’s a shock on our conscience and what we should be focusing on right now at this historic pivot point is pressuring politicians, Democrats and Republicans, in particularly the President of the United States who has a choice: how are you going to change your policy, your enforcement policies in the wake of two states basically seceding from your policy and also a majority, a growing majority of Americans who want full legalization.

It's a song I'll sing to any audience, including Fox Business Network in 2010.

For a blow-by-blow account of how the Obama administration is responding to this historic challenge, just follow the reporting of Reason's Mike Riggs. For the definitive story of Obama's terrible record on marijuana, read Sullum's October 2011 cover story, "Bummer: Barack Obama turns out to be just another drug warrior."

Reason.tv has produced dozens of gripping videos on the ongoing crackdown against medical marijuana. Our coverage of dispensary owner Charlie Lynch, who originally faced 100 years in prison, thrust the case into national prominence, and hopefully helped mitigate his eventual punishment. Watch it at this link:

And one our newest projects, the Reason-Rupe poll, has also shed important light on the rapidly evolving public opinion about marijuana policy.

You will not find a news outlet more committed and capable of covering this ongoing story than Reason. Does that matter to you? Do you want to see more of it? Then please consider donating to the Reason Foundation, the 501(c)3 nonprofit that underwrites our journalism efforts.

Donate $100 and you'll get a subscription, a T-shirt, a shout-out, and the chance to inflict your evil message on that scroll-bar thingie at the top of this page. A tax-deductible gift of $250 gets you all that plus a gift subscription and a nifty Reason bag (very good for raising eyebrows at Whole Foods). There are strange and wonderful benefits at the $666, $1,000, $2,500, $5,000, and (of course!) $5,125 levels as well. Go here for the whole list. And continue watching this space for more developments in America's longest war.

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  • Longtorso||

    I'm still working on my clever banner entry.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Sorry, I had to give my donation money to Mitt Romney to counteract Reason's nitpicking.

  • Calidissident||

    Yeah, because criticizing someone who you have vast disagreements with on virtually every issue is nitpicking

  • ||

    Please stop nitpicking Tulpa Doom. He's like a modern Barry Goldwater, except without the consistency.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    I would have beat the crap out of Gary Johnson if I were running.

  • Calidissident||

    Are we supposed to be impressed?

  • Tulpa Doom||

    I don't think you understand.

    If America turns to libertarianism, it will not be a cosmotarian type. It will be a Ron Paul paleo type or a Tulpa law-and-order type.

  • Calidissident||

    I voted for Paul in the primaries. I wasn't a Johnson fanboy, I just thought he was clearly the best candidate in the general election. But I am curious as tho why you think America may embrace paleo or "law and order" (ignoring the contradictory nature of your brand of "libertarianism") but not cosmotarianism? The country seems to moving in the direction of cosmotarianism more than the other two

  • Draft Tulpa 2016||

    The demographics that are growing are all social conservatives. This is certainly true in the GOP.

    And gay marriage getting outlawed by popular vote in one of the bluest elections in the bluest of the blue states puts the lie to the idea that the parts of the Dem party that are growing are flaming social liberals.

  • Calidissident||

    Gay marriage lost narrowly four years ago. It's won in a couple other states. Society is definitely moving towards acceptance of gay marriage. Was legal gay marriage even thinkable twenty years ago?

  • Draft Tulpa 2016||

    That's the moderates and old white liberals. Contrary to Welch/Gillespie's book, independents are not the demographic winners of the future. Independents voted for Mitt Romney by a relatively large margin.

  • ||

    I would have beat the crap out of Gary Johnson if I were running.

    You know, stuff like that is the sort of thing that knocks a guy out of the running for President.

  • Draft Tulpa 2016||

    I already have a new follower in the other thread. Law and order libertarianism is more fecund than the octomom, you'll see.

  • ||

    Which other thread?

  • Longtorso||

    My donation went to the "Free Warty" fund. The Warty was free, but I bought the extended service plan. Trust me, you want the warantee.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    KFC? reason already did it!

  • American||

    I will not be donating money, because I dislike the open borders crap. I was born in America, and I intened to live here all my life. America, not Mexico, not Somalia, America. The American way of life, capitalism, science, peace, amoung other things, must be preserved. Nigeria, a slumland of crime, war, and stupidity, is not the country I want to live in. I want to live in a land free from crime. I want to live in a capitalist country. I want the environment to be protected, I don't it to be destroyed to make way for even more low-income housing. I don't want a billion people here, overwhelming our schools and our prisons and backrupting our welfare state. I want my children to be able to go to school without fearing that they will be stabbed. I don't want the prices for housing, food, gas, and everything else to skyrocket, as they demand their "fair share" of our nation. I don't want ten thousand muslims marching through my country, demanding my right to free speech be taken away, as recently happened in the nation of my ancestors. Reason does some good work in adovocating for capitalism, but in supporting this, will not be recieving my money. I will be donating to VDARE.com

  • ||

    Heard it all already. Fuck off, you Chris Mallory wannabe.

  • JeremyR||

    Indeed. The biggest blindspot libertarians have is that everyone is just like them, that people are secretly libertarian inside.

    But it's just not true. Culture matters. Hispanics have a culture of totalitarianism, so do Muslims (a religious based one).

    And just ask the American Indians how open immigration worked out for them. Or Mexico allowing settlers in the SW of what is now the US.

  • Calidissident||

    "Indeed. The biggest blindspot libertarians have is that everyone is just like them, that people are secretly libertarian inside."

    Really? After reading all the threads here, and hearing people's takes on the masses, you come to the conclusion that libertarians think everyone else is libertarian? Also, given your next paragraph, I love the implication that it's only those Hipanics and Muslims (and whatever foreign groups you want to add to the list) that aren't secretly libertarian. People immigrate for a reason. Cultures don't remain static over generations. And I would hardly say every Hispanic country is totalitarian. Chile ranks higher than the US in economic freedom indexes. And there are plenty of examples of immigrant groups differing strongly from their home country. I mean, Cuba is communist so obviously Cuban Americans support communism, right?

    The Indians were done in by disease and warfare. It's not like they all just welcomed Europeans with open arms. Similarly, Mexico lost the West (which was very sparsely populated and most of it was only under nominal Mexican control) in a war with the US, including a lot of land where virtually no white people lived. Did the US become a part of Germany by letting in Germans? How about Italy? Or Ireland? Or Poland?

  • American||

    "People immigrate for a reason"
    Yeah, they want a piece of our country. They don't admire it.
    "Cultures don't remain static over generations"
    Muslim and Hispanic culture has stayed pretty much the same since the 600s and 1500s, respectivley. Simply because we abandoned PARTS of our culture doesn't mean they will.
    As I have said previoulsy about Chile, it is mostly European, and has had neoliberalism FORCED on it.
    Cubans would support "communism" if immigration was allowed by their government. The mass of non-white poor cubans are not at all like the white elite that escaped to the United States. But you knew that.
    "It's not like they all just welcomed Europeans with open arms."
    I think JeremyR was using irony. Big word, I know.
    You really think that Mexico's loss of it's territories had nothing to do with the presence of thousands of armed white setteers in Texas? Mexicans don't shoot themselves.
    And America is a European country, historically always settled by Europeans.

  • ||

    Yeah, they want a piece of our country. They don't admire it.

    I know I always live in places I dislike! I always avoid the areas I think look nice.

    Muslim and Hispanic culture has stayed pretty much the same since the 600s and 1500s, respectivley. Simply because we abandoned PARTS of our culture doesn't mean they will.

    Well actually, no. For starters, look up the "Islamic Golden Age". For another, multiple countries in the Middle East are not, culturally, the same way they were decades ago. Afghanistan is a good example. Qatar. I forget the name, but I remember reading an article about a Middle Eastern country that used to be very secular, with women in bikinis and everything (in some ways similar to how Afghanistan used to be). Hispanic cultures aren't exactly a monoculture either, and have changed significantly as well over time.

  • American||

    The British educated elites wore bikinis, the masses of the 99.9% did not. Anyway the expulsion of the Britianized elite is a tribute to continuity.

  • Calidissident||

    I love how he didn't even name the country and you say that with confidence. Even today, there are parts of the ME where you can and find women in bikinis. Turkey, while they have their problems, is certainly more modern than most other countries, which kinda contradicts the notion that Islamic societies can't change. Persians, despite the backwards government, are actually fairly modern as a people. Most of them aren't hardcore followers of the mullahs. Persian-Americans are very successful and well-assimilated. Muslims in general do pretty well economically, and until 9/11 and its aftermath, were a solid Republican voting block, which we know is so important to you

  • ||

    Can't quite remember which country it was. Wasn't Iraq or Afghanistan, wasn't Qatar or Saudi Arabia. If I saw the name I'd recognize it, but can't remember off the top of my head. What I do remember is interviews with burqa-clothed women who remembered being able to go outside without them, and wearing bikinis and things to the beach.

  • ||

    blockquoteAs I have said previoulsy about Chile, it is mostly European, and has had neoliberalism FORCED on it.

    If it doesn't fit your preconception it's not a "real" hispanic culture. I see.

    Cubans would support "communism" if immigration was allowed by their government.

    I'm sure all the ones who've fled Cuba would agree with you. Or how about the ones in Cuba now who are persecuted for not being good little stooges?

    The mass of non-white poor cubans are not at all like the white elite that escaped to the United States.

    It's all about color, apparently. Except when it's not- which is ALL THE TIME. Do you and Chris Mallory suck each other all the time, or only sometimes?

    And America is a European country,

    Except for not being in Europe.

    historically always settled by Europeans.

    Except for the Africans. And Asians. And hey, wasn't South America settled mostly by Europeans? Guess that doesn't really mean much.

  • American||

    "And hey, wasn't South America settled mostly by Europeans?"
    No

  • Calidissident||

    People of predominately European ancestry are the majority in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile. Venezuela and Colombia are pretty triracial, but IIRC the average person is more European than they are African or indigenous. That's a solid majority of South America (the only other countries are Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, where indigenous descent predominates, and then Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana, which aren't Hispanic, where African and Asian Indian ancestry is most common)

  • Calidissident||

    "Yeah, they want a piece of our country."
    If they purchase some land, or rent it from someone else, I don't know why I'm supposed to object to this.

    "They don't admire it."
    And your evidence of this is ...?

    "Muslim and Hispanic culture has stayed pretty much the same since the 600s and 1500s, respectivley. Simply because we abandoned PARTS of our culture doesn't mean they will."

    Ignoring the accuracy of the first sentence, I thought it was pretty clear I was referring to the culture of immigrant groups over generations. Which has never been static. Do you seriously think Muslims and Hispanics in the US have the exact same culture as the people in their home countries? That there hasn't been any degree of assimilation? Also, Latin American culture is heavily based in Spanish culture, which is really the only thing that unites all the different Hispanic groups, and last time I checked, Spaniards are white Europeans. And most Latin Americans have significant European ancestry.

    "As I have said previoulsy about Chile, it is mostly European, and has had neoliberalism FORCED on it."
    It's European in the sense that Spanish is the largest ancestry. Most people have significant indigenous ancestry. You've said in the past that it's heavily "Northern European" which is patently false, as Germans are the largest northern Euro group at less than 5% of the population.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Do you seriously think Muslims and Hispanics in the US have the exact same culture as the people in their home countries?

    He does, because he paints non-Europeans with a broad brush and nothing you say will convince him otherwise. See his laughable comments regarding Cubans.

  • Calidissident||

    (cont)Chile has been a democracy for over 20 years and has only gotten more free economically since then. Argentina is whiter than Chile and is well-known for its economic populism

    "Cubans would support "communism" if immigration was allowed by their government. The mass of non-white poor cubans are not at all like the white elite that escaped to the United States. But you knew that."

    If they support communism, why would they leave Cuba? And it's not like white Cubans totally opposed the Revolution. The Castros and Che aren't/weren't black last time I checked. In any case, my only point was that it's an example of an immigrant group that differs significantly from the ancestral country

    "You really think that Mexico's loss of it's territories had nothing to do with the presence of thousands of armed white setteers in Texas? Mexicans don't shoot themselves."
    When people say the US took the West from Mexico, it really isn't accurate. The vast majority of the West was either uninhabited or still controlled by Native Americans. California was one of the more densely populated areas and it's non-Native population (both Anglo and Hispanic) at the end of the Mexican-American War was 15,000. I don't think people really realize how few people (aside from the natives) lived in the West at the time

  • Calidissident||

    "And America is a European country, historically always settled by Europeans."

    America is and has always been a country mostly populated by people of European descent. It's always been significantly different from Europe. But being American isn't dependent on race or ethnicity. Non-whites have always been a significant part of the US and have always had a significant impact on its history. And if you wanted to get more specific, America was historically a country populated by people of British descent. Today, they form a minority of the population, even among white people. What's your point? No one is entitled to more rights because they have a similar skin tone to the guys who wrote the Declaration of Independence

  • General Butt Naked||

    I will be donating to VDARE.com

    I think you should save your money. Perhaps invest in some paragraph administration and hyperbole management courses at the local community college.

    Never mind, in college you might have to sit next to a Mexican, or GASP!, a black guy. Just stay home and rant in your underwear.

  • ||

    GASP!, a black guy

    Why should this bother him? Everyone knows Africa is a hotbed of libertarianism, such as Somalia.

  • General Butt Naked||

    'Cause black people scare his kids with knives at school, or something.

    Culture of totalitarianism!

  • American||

    I went to school with hispanics, and white kids like me had plenty of justification to be scared.

  • General Butt Naked||

    You seem like a pretty tough customer, I wouldn't imagine those other kids messed with you much.

  • Calidissident||

    More white people are murdered, raped, etc by white men than they are hispanic or black men (let alone hispanic or black women). Most violent crime is intraracial. The difference in crime rate between Hispanics and whites also varies heavily by region, and much of whatever difference there is is due to gender and age demographics

  • Draft Tulpa 2016||

    Oh, I see. If you enjoy having a penis thrust into your rectum that's OK, but if you enjoy sitting at home arguing with strangers in your underwear about immigration that's not OK.

    Your you know what is showing.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Look ma'am, no disrespect, but the only way you'd know if my "you know what was showing, would be when it was wrapped around your fucking neck right before I started your head up like a goddamn lawn mower.

  • Draft Tulpa 2016||

    This is why we can't have nice anarchies.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Here, watch these people shoot a KIA up, you'll feel better.

  • American||

    NOPE!! Sorry, your Marxist college professor can earn his own living, he's not getting any of my money.

  • ||

    Took you all day think of that one, did it? Nice to know your complete lack of an education is working out so well for you.

  • Calidissident||

    My favorite part about VDARE is the fact that they were founded by an immigrant from the UK haha

  • Generic Stranger||

    That's the "right" kind of immigrant. It's those funny-lookin' furriners with darker skin that are bad, doncha know.

    /"American"

  • General Butt Naked||

    Headline from VDARE:

    Memo From Middle America | Obama’s Administrative Amnesty Not Applicable To White, Legal, English Girl. And While We’re On The Subject, Aren’t British Immigrants Preferable To Mexican Immigrants Anyway?*

    Wow, you called it GS. Perfect.

    *this is totally fucking real, and from the actual site. no shit.

  • Calidissident||

    Haha you can't make this shit up!

    This reminds me of the thread a couple days ago where I made a post saying how progressives often made a certain argument that was inherently hypocritical, and in the time it took for me to write that post, Tony made the exact same argument I was talking about in a different part of the thread. Or all the times trolls, or people on other websites make serious arguments that we view as jokes ("SOMALIA! ROADZ!") here. It's scary how reality can imitate parody

  • American||

    Ya, it is, I saw it myself. British immigrants are preferable to Mexicans. Think of it this way. In an economy you have two types of people, those who use their brains to produce wealth, and those who exploit either other people or the environment. British belong to the first catagory, Mexicans, to the second. Would you rather live in Britain or Mexico? Would you rather live in a Mexican area or a Anglo-American area? Some people here think that fearing blacks is somehow irrational. Calidissident, would you send your children to a black school? Answer the question.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Okay, I'm pulling the sockpuppet card. This is way over the top.

    No one wants to live in England.

    Is 'at you jimbo?

  • Calidissident||

    So much for your objection to immigration being because they support socialism. We all know modern British people just love capitalism and hate socialism, right?

  • General Butt Naked||

    I'm telling you Cali, these things ain't real. It's probably warty, or someone, fucking with us. He's not even pretending to not be racist.

  • Draft Tulpa 2016||

    We don't have droves of British coming into the country illegally (or otherwise)

  • Calidissident||

    And your point is what Tulpa? The only reason British immigrants got brought up is because the founder of VDARE is a British immigrant

  • General Butt Naked||

    Here's a video of America preachin' the word.

    Jesus gave him that cold sore.

  • ||

    I know I'm convinced.

  • SAL||

    IMO American is a hilarious troll. His orthography errors and generally poor command of English are a fine touch, how ironic! And I tell you this as a libertarian from Latin America (whose very existence is impossible according to his collectivistic ideas)

  • Calidissident||

    "And I tell you this as a libertarian from Latin America"

    Impossible. Only a real 'Merican like American can embrace freedom.

  • Draft Tulpa 2016||

    And he's stealing jobs from American anti-illegal activists. Ship him back with Andrew Sullivan.

  • waaminn||

    That \looks like its gonna be some pretty good stuff man, Wow.

    www.GotzAnon.tk

  • sohbet||

    super blogs thanks admins
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  • cinsel chat||

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