Drug War

Brewer Stands Up for the 10th Amendment by Asking a Federal Judge to Overturn Her State's Medical Marijuana Law


Yesterday Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer finally dropped her pretense of merely trying to clarify whether her state's medical marijuana law is pre-empted by the Controlled Substances Act and asked a federal judge to overturn it. Specifically, Brewer argues that the provisions calling for state-licensed dispensaries (as opposed to the provisions allowing patients to use marijuana as a medicine) violate the CSA and could expose state employees to federal prosecution. She took that position after U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton said she would dismiss the case unless the state picked a side.

Brewer, who blocked the licensing of dispensaries last May, opposed the medical marijuana law before voters approved it last November and has criticized it since then, but until now she has not explicitly tried to nullify it. Her spokesman, Matthew Benson, still insists that "she does support the will of the voters." Benson also claims that Brewer's eagerness to let the federal government dictate state policy in this area is perfectly consistent with the federalist principles underlying her insistence on state autonomy regarding health policy and immigration enforcement:

The governor has never claimed state law supersedes federal law. The argument has always been federal government, do your job, enforce the law, enforce immigration law, enforce drug law. That is what this has always been about.

But even if we assume the Supreme Court was right to conclude that the federal government's job includes enforcing marijuana prohibition even in states that allow medical use of the drug (a point that defenders of the 10th Amendment would have to question), that does not mean states are obligated to help. The federal government has no authority to prevent states from carving out exceptions to their own drug laws (or repealing them entirely, for that matter). For any true federalist, there is an important principle at stake here, one that Brewer is willing to sacrifice because she disagrees with the policy chosen by Arizona's voters.

Another opponent of the medical marijuana law, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, responds to that point by tarring federalism with an old brush:

I'm not arguing for states' rights in this regard as much as I wouldn't argue for states' rights in furthering the institution of slavery. It's against federal law.

Leaving aside the odious moral equation of freedom with its opposite, slavery is not just "against federal law"; it is banned by the Constitution. The 13th Amendment explicitly gives Congress the authority to prevent the buying and selling of humans, regardless of the policy favored by any particular state. Not so the cultivation, possession, and distribution of marijuana, which the Constitution allows states to address as they see fit. 

[Thanks to Richard Cowan for the tip.]

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  1. Fuck Jan Brewer.

    1. As old ladies go… meh, I’d probably hit that.

      1. Dude, I just ate.

      2. sparky – she looks like a sagging skeletor

      3. Alt text: “This is how I want you to pinch my nipples. Just like this.”

        1. You, sir, disgust me. And laugh while watching Saw.

      4. Alt text: “This is you talking: bleahbleahbleahlbleah”

      5. I want to spooge in her eye–just to watch the pachinko action as it dribbles down her chin.

  2. As a conservative I’m getting concerned. This issue is quickly becoming our “illegal immigration” so to speak. We need to pull our heads out of the sand before we lose future generations for good. This is a common sense issue, its as basic as two plus two, all the polls show support for legal cannabis rising at a staggering rate. We need to let go of the old wives tales, let go of the nonsensical horror stories. All the science points in the same direction, all the polls point in the same direction, not to mention basic common sense points in the same direction. We have 5% of the worlds population and we house 25% of the worlds prison population, that costs money, that is insane.

    As conservatives its important that we make it clear to younger generations. We are the party of common sense. We are the party of freedom and personal responsibility. There is absolutely no reason to laugh in the face of science, while holding on to bankrupting, backward policy’s for the sake of nostalgia. Its time to let go of the past, we were wrong, period. The war on drugs has destroyed millions of lives, we’ve wasted over a trillion dollars. This is supposed to be the land of the free, not the land of the incarcerated. We have allowed our government to rob us of our 4th amendment rights, all for what? A plant? Are you kidding me? Stand up for freedom before there’s none left to fight for. Freedom and personal responsibility, live it, breath it, preach it. Vote for Ron Paul

    1. Call Guinness. You may have set a record for mixed metaphors. Well played!

      1. mixed then served on the rocks.


  3. I’m sure it’s occurred to Jan Brewer that if the voters somehow messed up by approving AZ’s Medical Marijuana Act, then it’s just as likely that the voting public also messed up by electing her.

    1. She can also say, “but, but SB1070!” I have frequently argued here that SB1070 is an actual preemption of section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (or at the very least, an attempt to evade its intended effects), but very few AZ voters understand that.

      On the other hand, Scalia essentially admitted Gonzalez v. Raich that the CSA was un-Constitutional, but decided to uphold the illegal law anyway. Thomas was explicit in his dissent. This sham exposes Brewer and all of the phony “Constitutional Conservatives” here in AZ.

      1. that the federal govt is NOT enforcing immigration law is a hard argument to make in the face of RECORD DEPORTATIONS

        1. Minimally coherent and on topic.

          *slow clap*

          1. Definitely a spoof.

  4. Milk Street Cafe, the restaurant whose business dried up in the face of the Occupy Wall Street barricades, is shutting down.

    Thursday will be the last day for the 23,000 square-foot eatery that opened at 40 Wall St. in June, the Daily News has learned.

    “It’s terribly sad,” Milk Street Cafe owner Marc Epstein told the News.

    Epstein blamed the barricades that remained in front of his restaurant even after the Occupy Wall Street protestors were removed from Zuccotti Park.

    “This is now the 12th straight week of the barricades,” he said.

    The restaurant owner, who operates an eatery and catering business in Boston, said he pressed the city daily for their removal, but got nowhere.

    Milk Street Cafe’s closure will result in the layoff of 70 workers. That’s on top of the 21 let go in October.

    In recent days, Epstein tried to find resources to remain open, but in the end he couldn’t come up with the cash to keep the vast restaurant running.

    “Everyone has to understand the consequences of their actions,” he said. “I have 90 plus people who put their faith in me. I feel horrible.”

    When asked whether he would ever open a restaurant in New York again, Epstein responded, “Never.”


    1. is there any recourse for this guy’s business and his employees? Probably not. So Occupy is putting people out of work, people who probably make close to minimum wage. Good job, assholes.

      1. Look at the bright side, the people who lost their jobs are now free to pursue degrees in puppetry and theater arts.

        1. It’s because he is a filthy 1% rat bastard who would rather fire all of his employees and shut down his business than give them a living wage of $20 an hour with full medical and dental and redistributing his fortune to those most in need. What an asshole.


        2. Enough condescension. Most of them already had a BFA.

      2. Maybe it was the barricades the government and police put up trying to restrict and funnel the protesters that restricted access to his restaurant. Nice try, asshole.

  5. States rights!…except when it might conflict with the mainstream conservative agenda.

    1. Pretty much. This woman is – how can I put it – the south end of a northbound horse…

    1. Lobster Girl is hawt, but that clip (posted on Reason’s Day of H&R Freedom) of that chick pulling up her jeans is far, far hawter.


  6. Hey, didn’t they need a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw alcohol at the federal level?

    1. That was in the old days, before they knew how to properly interpret the Constitution.

    2. Yes, they did. The federal government lacks the authority to impose prohibition on the states without a constitutional amendment. They couldn’t prohibit alcohol without it being unconstitutional until they passed and ratified the 18th amendment, then they had to pass and ratify the 21st amendment to get rid of prohibition, they couldn’t just pass a statute un-prohibiting alcohol.

      Nothing in the constitutional authority of the federal government to regulate or outlaw any drug has changed since the ratification of the 21st amendment. Which means the Drug War is 100% unconstitutional and always has been.

      The idea that the Constitution is a “living document” is a truly vile one. It changes the document from the supreme law of the land to a mere guideline, that the government is not required to follow. If at any time the government decides they dislike anything in the Constitution, they don’t need to ratify an amendment or pass a statute, they simply need to change the definitions of a word or two in a dictionary.

      Either you have a code of conduct and always adhere to it, or you don’t. Being able to abandon it when the going gets tough means you never had one to begin with.

  7. could expose state employees to federal prosecution.

    Civilians. on the other hand; who gives a flying fuck?

    1. Better a hundred sick people go to jail than a single state employee, right, Jan?

  8. In Billy Montgomery’s mind, medical cannabis is on the same playing field as slavery…people of Arizona, WAKE UP TO WHO YOU ARE VOTING INTO OFFICE!!!

  9. Isn’t this the same governor who violated Federal law by required people to show papers to prove they are legal US residence?

    1. No. The Arizona immigration law did nothing of the sort, and does not violate Federal law.

      It says on my wife’s green card that Federal law requires her to carry on her person at all times, and to show it when it is demanded. The Arizona law made no such demand.


      If you are a permanent resident age 18 or older, you are required to have a valid green card in your possession at all times.

      1. Yes, but if you are a US citizen who speaks with a Mexican accent, you are not required to carry identification. How is a cop stopping someone on the street to know which person is required to carry ID and which is not? One citizen being inconvenienced by this is too many.

        1. but if you are a US citizen who speaks with a Mexican accent, you are not required to carry identification.

          People are arrested in NYC for not carrying ID, citizens or not.

          How is a cop stopping someone on the street to know which person is required to carry ID and which is not?

          The Arizona law does not allow police to demand proof of immigration status of people who merely look Mexican, but spells out the circumstances under which that is permitted and spells out penalties for asking other under circumstances.

          The Federal law for green card holders does not have these provisions.

          One citizen being inconvenienced by this is too many.

          One citizen murdered by an illegal who shouldn’t be here is too many. See how easy that was? I’m afraid you’ll have to actually argue, rather than demand that everyone assume your premise.

          You can say that about every law, but the Federal law for green card holders, being a greater infringement on liberty, should be higher on your list.

      2. Besides what Zeb said I would argue that that requirement is unconstitutional anyways.

  10. You silly constitutionalists. Clearly the 10th Amendment is just for states having their own foreign policy!

  11. She looks like Pelosi, minus a decade of face lifts.

  12. So Occupy is putting people out of work, people who probably make close to minimum wage. Good job, assholes.

    But- but- a job is a right!

    That guy should just keep all those people on the payroll, because once you hire somebody you are morally obligated to provide that person a job at a living wage in perpetuity.

  13. Recall Governor Jan Brewer

  14. Great picture:)

  15. The Governor is WRONG in this. If the Law was passed by the VOTERS; she should do Their will, or be impeached/recalled.

  16. Simply put, the government should have no say as to what you can or cannot do to your own body. If you want to screw yourself up with drugs, bad tatoos, or McDonald’s, it should be your right. Hell, it might help us clean up the gene pool even.

  17. This is always about pot but what about Industrial hemp. It could fix the economy.

  18. Governor Brewer has intimate ties to Corrections Corporation of America. Her Chief of Staff, Paul Senseman, is a former CCA lobbyist, and his wife is currently a lobbyist for the company. Brewer’s campaign manager and senior policy advisor, Chuck Coughlin, runs a consulting firm that also lobbies for CCA in Arizona.


  19. This article is severely mistitled. It should be Brewer stands up AGAINST the 10th Amendment, not for. She is clearly not standing up for the constitution is she is asking the supreme court to ignore it.

  20. Doesn’t the Governor take some kind of oath? What is hers? Is it to protect the laws of her state or to protect the interest of her corporate sponsors? Her actions betray her words. This is just wrong in so many ways.

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