Will Marijuana Legalization Teach Progressives the Virtues of Federalism?


While former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo endorsed that state's marijuana legalization initiative, the think tank he ran before he was elected to the House did not. The Independence Institute ("Freedom's Front Line")  "held no position on Amendment 64," its current president, Jon Caldara, notes. But Caldara argues that, "even if you hate pot being legal," the measure's passage two weeks ago created "a great teachable moment":

We finally have a state-rights issue that the Left can, must and will understand and fight to preserve….

This is a massive opportunity for those of us who fear the growing central authority in D.C. Some portion of the Left will now agree with us. We need to embrace this challenge and take a lead in educating Coloradans about the Tenth Amendment before the Left tries to pervert it somehow.

In order for those who support pot to keep in legal in Colorado, they MUST embrace the Founders' ideal of Federalism. And I believe we need to help them understand the power of this simple ideal, and why it applies to a whole lot more than weed.

But if you hate Amendment 64 and wish it smothered out of existence, the only way that can happen now is if you embrace what the Left embraces: federal power trumping the expressed wishes of a sovereign state. Perhaps, like health insurance, the Feds can tax us for not purchasing dope, but they'll have to pervert the Constitution (again) to override the vote in Colorado.

I expressed similar hopes in the July issue of Reason, where I argued that conservatives and progressives should unite against an overweening national government.