Marijuana

Huckabee: Refusing Gay Marriage Licenses Is Like Allowing Pot Sales

Why legalized marijuana is not "the same as Kim Davis"

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KCCI

Here is how a Breitbart headline paraphrases a question posed by Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in a recent interview on KCCI, the CBS station in Des Moines: "How Is Legalized Pot Not the Same As Kim Davis?" At first glance, you may think that's a crazy question begging for a jokey reponse (legalized pot is a lot more fun than Kim Davis?). You probably won't change your mind after giving some thought to Huckabee's counterintuitive comparison between states that let people buy marijuana and the Kentucky county clerk who refused to grant gay marriage licenses. The exercise is nevertheless worth the effort, because it highlights the fuzzy thinking underlying what Huckabee describes as a major source of conservative anger.

Here is how Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor who opposes legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes but says he is open to medical use, phrased his question:

Let me ask you this. How come it's that liberals are OK with not keeping the federal law when it comes to the marijuana laws and it's OK for the states to ignore it, but if it comes to a county clerk in Kentucky who doesn't believe that she can abide by a federal court ruling, not even a law, then she goes to jail? Do you see where conservatives sometimes their heads explode because they say, "Boy, there's one set of rules for people on the left and a total different set of rules for people on the right"?

It is surely true that progressives, like conservatives, can be strikingly selective in their federalism. But in this case the inconsistency that Huckabee perceives evaporates once you realize that legalizing marijuana at the state level is perfectly consistent with the Constitution, while Davis's refusal to do her job was not—at least, not according to the way the Supreme Court has interpreted the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection. I realize that Huckabee disagrees with that interpretation, but the order he dismisses as a mere "court ruling," worthy of less respect than a statute, was aimed at enforcing a constitutional requirement.

By contrast, nothing in the Constitution obligates states to punish every action that Congress decides to treat as a crime. The Supreme Court says the federal government has constitutional authority to continue enforcing its ban on marijuana even in states that legalize the drug. But states are still indisputably free to eliminate their own penalties for growing, possessing, and distributing marijuana, and Huckabee is incorrect to describe that choice as "not keeping the federal law." Whatever you may think of the way the Court has stretched the Commerce Clause to accommodate the war on drugs (among many other overreaching federal policies), even that highly permissive view of federal power does not allow Congress to dragoon the states into enforcing pot prohibition.

Huckabee himself seems to recognize that constitutional reality. Unlike most of the Republican candidates who have clearly addressed the issue, Huckabee so far has not explicitly said the federal government should not interfere with marijuana legalization in states such as Colorado and Washington. But he came close in the KCCI interview, saying, "Let's let Colorado have at it for a few years, and let's see how that works out for them." Huckabee obviously thinks the results will not be pretty. But unlike Chris Christie, he sounds like he's prepared to tolerate the experiment.

[Thanks to Marc Sandhaus for the tip.]

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  1. “legalizing marijuana at the state level is perfectly consistent with the Constitution, while Davis’s refusal to do her job was not?at least, not according to the way the Supreme Court has interpreted the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.”

    I understand that the states don’t have to *assist* the feds in exercising what the Supreme Court assures us is their power to ban certain plants.

    But some states have gone beyond this, sometimes even setting up “government-run marijuana store[s].”

    If the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court are the law of the land, as we’re told in the Kim Davis case they are, then by the same token, state and local governments which go into the marijuana business are violating the law of the land just as surely as Kim Davis.

    I suppose, then, that you’d be OK with the owners of these stores going to prison just like Davis?

    1. And in general, if a state actually adopts a licensing system for growing or selling marijuana, then by the anti-Kim-Davis logic they’re licensing direct violations of federal law.

    2. Forgot to mention – the link has autoplay.

      1. How Is autoplay not the same as Kim Davis?

    3. Because they don’t care about the law, federalism, or the supreme court they’re just pro gay-marriage and pro-marijuana, and will support anything that furthers these goals regardless of the law or unintended consequences.

      1. “Wah! Cosmos took away muh country!”

        1. I see you are as open-minded and as intelligent as always. Want to throw in an oh so original “They terk our jerbs!” for good measure too?

          Why think when you have insults and internet memes to use instead?

          1. I think. Your stupid ‘point’ doesn’t merit better. It’s just more SoCon saltiness.

            1. The problem is you think nobody that disagrees with you merits better. You’re just an arrogant asshole who constantly alienates people, even people that agree with you with your constant arrogance, and closed-mindedness.

              1. “The problem is you think nobody that disagrees with you merits better.”

                Not true that’s just more saltiness on your part. If I see a good argument I will treat it as such.

                I’m only as arrogant and alienating as the world forces me to be.

            2. Which is worse than pudgy Candian midget sexual bitterness how? Canada has an election coming up go freak out at people on the CBC website or something short stack.

      2. Because they don’t care about the law, federalism, or the supreme court they’re just pro gay-marriage and pro-marijuana, and will support anything that furthers these goals regardless of the law or unintended consequences.

        I care about the law and federalism, but only insomuch as it furthers increases in freedom. If it’s a violation of the law or federalism or whatever, but it increases freedom, so be it.

    4. “If the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court are the law of the land, as we’re told in the Kim Davis case they are, then by the same token, state and local governments which go into the marijuana business are violating the law of the land just as surely as Kim Davis.”

      The supreme court has not ruled that these states must dismantle those licensing schemes. If they do and the states ignore them it will be the same as Kim Davis. As it stands they are just acting according to their rights in the constitution as understood for almost 200 years before FDR effectively redefined the entire thing by judicial coup.

      1. “they are just acting according to their rights in the constitution as understood for almost 200 years before FDR effectively redefined the entire thing by judicial coup.”

        You mean, like Kim Davis is doing?

    5. The US Constitution does not allow the USG to outlaw drugs, so ‘the law of the land’ is actually pretty clear.

      1. Nor does it allow the USG to redefine marriage. That part is about as clear as the drug part.

        1. There are actual Constitutional arguments that can be made in favor of marriage redefinition. Prohibiting intoxicants, however, seems to fly in the face of the 21st Amendment. It would be similar if, for example, a Constitutional amendment had been passed that did redefine marriage (by prohibiting polygamy, for example) and then repealed. Alas, that never happened.

          1. There’s a constitutional argument for everything, yes, even federal pot laws.

            The Reich opinion went over these arguments.

            Of course they were wrong, but obviously there’s a case to be made.

            Congress wants to keep dope out of the stream of interstate commerce. To do that, it must cut off the dope at its source – local growers. And as for people who grow pot for local use only, well, that affects the interstate traffic in pot, so local use can be regulated, too.

            etc.

            A bogus argument, but then, so is the argument that, nearly a century and a half after the 14th Amendment, we’ve suddenly discovered a right to be gay-married. Maybe it was under the couch cushions and the Supreme Court didn’t find it until just now?

            1. Maybe it was under the couch cushions and the Supreme Court didn’t find it until just now?

              It’s been there all along.

              It’s not the fault of a wronged party, who has been guaranteed a right to marry under the 14th Amendment, that the Supreme Court has refused to honor that amendment as written for the last 150 years. It is, however, the Supreme Court’s obligation to correct their error.

    6. Actually under the Controlled Substances Act, agents enforcing a state or local law on controlled substances are allowed to mfr. & distribute them w/o federal registration. So actually gov’t authorities are allowed to do so w/o violating federal law.

      1. Interesting, could you give me a cite?

        Not that I don’t believe you, but I would think we would have heard about this before in the courts of the MJ debate.

        1. *course* of the debate

        2. This is the provision by which, for instance, the police conducted “sell & bust” operations in Fla. for crack. It was already used in the 1990s in med mj in Calif. when a municipality deputized the owner of a plot where mj was grown as a municipal officer of some sort. The US dist. ct. judge didn’t buy it, but the case was litigated no farther. No case has come up wherein an indisputable officer of the law has been involved in such de novo distribution, but only this somewhat shaky case wherein the deputized person seemed to have no enforcement responsibility & was not a gov’t employee. However, see “The Final Hit?”, Colo. Springs Independent, July 8, 2015, reporting on how a federal appeals court ruled 2-1 that officers returning seized med mj were exempt under federal law from prosecution for doing so.

          See CFR Title 21 Part 1301.24 for the reg, I’m having trouble at the moment finding the statutory provision of the US CSA underlying it, but it’s there.

          1. It’s 885(d): (d) Immunity of Federal, State, local and other officials
            Except as provided in section 2234 and 2235 of title 18, no civil
            or criminal liability shall be imposed by virtue of this subchapter
            upon any duly authorized Federal officer lawfully engaged in the
            enforcement of this subchapter, or upon any duly authorized officer
            of any State, territory, political subdivision thereof, the
            District of Columbia, or any possession of the United States, who
            shall be lawfully engaged in the enforcement of any law or
            municipal ordinance relating to controlled substances.

          2. http://tinyurl.com/nsexmnr has the court decision, which was actually a Colo. appeals ct., not federal, but shows the analysis of majority & dissent.

            1. This is very interesting. I hope that argument works.

              1. It’s unlikely to ever be litigated again. You think the feds & states want to fight over this?

    7. The government should have never been involved with the right to get married, from the get go! It is a right, protected by the BOR. It is not a privilege! We should not have to ask for permission! If a church does not want to marry gays, let them get married somewhere else. If a woman feels wrong about giving them a marriage license, it is her right, as well. (although us hypocrites see the flaw in her past behavior, as well) Let the county clerk take care of her other clerking duties. In this case, she would have been breaking another law, in that state. It was a true Catch 22! The problem is a government that wants to meddle, more and more, in our private lives! Gays have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us. But, I don’t feel they can force our, unwilling, participation, as they seem to have tried, in her case. Cannabis should also be another thing the government has no control over, Mr Huckabee. Tea totaling hypocrites should have no say, either, as to us consuming the safer intoxicant! The denomination he belongs to, wrongly condemns the consumption of alcohol (the more deadly, and legal, intoxicant), in this country! Why would he be driving us to drink?! He does not approve of alcohol, either! He does not seem to realize that the only prohibition God called for (Adam and Eve?) failed, miserably.

  2. Huckabee: “Marijuana has never made anybody a better citizen.”

    “Skateboarding has never made anybody a better citizen.”

    “Taxation has never made anybody a better citizen.”

    “Running for elective office has never made anybody a better citizen.”

    1. Because that’s the goal, of course. To be a “better citizen.”

      Ah, fascism.

      1. Correct, Citizen.

        1. Ein Toke, Ein High, ein Doobie.

          1. Marihuana machen Ihnen einen besseren B?rger.

      2. the individual exists only in so far as he is within the State and subjected to the requirements of the state.

        Someone should write that down maybe build a philosophy around it.

    2. Deep dish pizza, artisanal mayonnaise, a magazine called Reason, The Bay City Rollers, Non-Corona beer, Steven Seagal, nor abortion on demand have never made anyone a better person. Did I miss anything?

      Yoga pants, however, have been the best thing to happen to mankind since the cameltoe epidemic of the mid-80’s.

      1. Circumcision….shit, I forgot circumcision.

  3. But states are still indisputably free to eliminate their own penalties for growing, possessing, and distributing marijuana, and Huckabee is incorrect to describe that choice as “not keeping the federal law.”

    That which is not prohibited is mandatory! States not prohibiting marijuana are making it mandatory! They’re forcing their citizens to be felons!

  4. Didn’t Kim Davis refuse to hand out any marriage license to anyone gay or straight? I’m fairly certain refusal of service to everybody doesn’t violate equal protection. Otherwise no one would be allowed to shut down their business instead of serving people they don’t like.

    1. She’s not an individual wrt her job. In that capacity she is the government. Government has no rights, only powers.

      She should be impeached for not exercising the powers she was elected to provide IAW the Constitution. If she can’t, in good conscience, do that, she needs to resign.

      1. a point the bears repeating well done, government is granted powers by the people it serves, it has NO “rights”.

    2. Not issuing marriage licenses isn’t like shutting down a business. People can’t legally be married without a license and the government has a monopoly on issuing them. If there was only one government-run restaurant in the town, libertarians would be fine with requiring it to serve everyone. Until the state gets out of the licensing business, or allows non-government entities to license marriage, the county clerk is obliged to serve everyone equally.

  5. Listening to Mike Huckabee never made anybody a better citizen.

    1. Which is why I’m not wasting my time reading the article.

      1. Well I guess that’s not really “why”

    2. !This. Who gives a fuck what Huckster has to say about anything? Oh…well if he volunteered to commit suicide live on TV. That might pique my interest.

  6. The contrast of individual liberty vs. being an agent of the state is apparently lost on Mr. Huckabee (and numerous other commentators and politicians).

    1. Including numerous commenters here.

    2. Yes. We really don’t want agents of the state exercising their ‘liberty’ to interpret the law however they want.

  7. One is not stopping a person from engaging in an activity that harms no one else. The other is not giving a person an opportunity to receive exclusive government entitlements. While I personally think Davis should have resigned for her faith, only one of these things has to do with liberty.

    One is big government, the other is not. Which is Huckabee advocating and which is he against?

    1. Which do you think?

      1. He thinks that you are a few fries short of a happy meal.

        1. That’s rich. Please, tell us how the Joos pulled off 9/11.

          1. I don’t know; what have they revealed to you?

    2. If we’re going to have exclusive government benefits, then its better if everyone gets them than only a favored group.

    3. One is not stopping a person from engaging in an activity that harms no one else.

      I would say that both not enforcing drug laws, and not licensing marriages, both qualify as not stopping a person, etc.

      People kinda fell for a misdirection on Equal Protection. The equal protection problem wasn’t the licensing, it was the benefits that licensing got you. If a marriage license had no more legal effect than Mrs. Dean’s Green Bay Packer stock certificate, we could have avoided this whole thing.

      But we made being married a ticket to tax bennies and there’s an old evidentiary privilege. Maybe those were the real problem, not state recognition (without more) of your personal relationship.

  8. I think this answer the question of what happened to John… He’s writing speeches for the Huckabee campaign.

    1. I guess Hucksterbee is correcting the typos on the fly. Tells me he can think on his feet. Presidential.

  9. its kind of the same thing, The federal government was never given the authority to regulate vegetation or marriage in the constitution, actually it was expressly forbidden from involving itself in it (1st, 9th, 10th) so by states refusing the unconstitutional dictates of the leviathan this is the same thing so long as kim davis refuses to serve anyone, since state marriage licensing is anathema to the separation of church and state and shouldn’t exist in the first place. the root of the matter is to call the state portion of the contract a civil union and to allow the various religions to call it whatever the fuck they want, and switch the tax code to a flat tax with no loopholes or deductions. then to abolish the controlled substances act as the unconstitutional piece of shit that it is and allow states and the people to set their own regulations. then maybe we can add another constitutional amendment stating that “No branch of government on any level may enact any law making criminal the non-violent, non-coercive activities of consenting citizens”

    1. *not to be misconstrued as my support for her reasoning, just that there is a legitimate argument against state licensing in general, and more broadly an argument against needing a kim davis or anyone else employed by the state to bless anyone’s relationship since the states opinion matters exactly twaddle in any citizens personal affairs.

    2. Marriage licensing has nothing to do w separ’n of church & st.

  10. “It is surely true that progressives, like conservatives, can be strikingly selective in their federalism.”

    Only progressives know the difference between true, good federalism and dog whistle racism.

    Why do you pot smoking hippies hate black people, hmmmmmmmmm?

  11. Has there ever been a dumbass politician with a more apt name than Huckabee?

    Part Hick, Part shuckster, with a retard stutter at the end.

  12. If that dumb shit Huckabee wants to go through all sorts of logical errors to claim an equivalence where there is none, why is in incumbent on rational people to respond?
    OK, well, here, Huckabee, let’s make it simple enough that you and your low-watt compatriots can understand:
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of a religion…”

  13. It is surely true that progressives, like conservatives, can be strikingly selective in their federalism.

    I, too, am selective with my federalism. If the states increase freedom despite the feds, then I’m for it. If the feds increase freedom despite the states, then I’m for that too. I see no reason to favor federalism for its own sake.

    1. I see no reason to favor federalism for its own sake.

      That seems to be the current thinking around here: that centralized plenary power in a single Total State is no more a threat to liberty that decentralized partial authority among a multitude of smaller governments.

      The Founders got it all wrong, apparently.

      The difficulty comes when you have stripped states of their ability to depart from the national standard, and one wants to do something more libertyish. The ratchet seems to turn only one way. I’d love to live in a society where it turned the other way, but we don’t.

      1. Well, when one of those decentralized partial authorities does something anti-liberty, it is still anti-liberty. It doesn’t suddenly become totally ok, because it isn’t a centralized exercise of power. It is still an exercise of power.

        1. But which is more likely, in the big picture and over the long run, to be more liberty-friendly? That’s the question.

          My concern is that we are cheering on having structural protections chipped away for evanescent gains.

  14. So Kim Davis is no better than Adam Lanza. Got it.

  15. State laws don’t have to mirror federal laws. Huckabee is not alleging that.

    In the case of pot laws, the federal law is not being enforced.
    So, the analogy is apt.

    The problem with “legalizing” pot for recreational use,
    is the high taxes. While medical pot is usually taxed less,
    due to Supreme Court decisions.

  16. the one detail Huckabee fails to consider, and his having been a state governor in the past, SHOULD realise (he had to have sworn an oath to uphold both state and federal Constitutions as he took that office… and should know that which he swears to uphold but obviously does not). That detail is that, NOWHERE in the US Constittution are FedGov granted or assigned any authority to decide or control what WE THE PEOPLE decide to put into our bodies, or not. It simply falls outside the purview assigned FedGov. Further, FedGov have no authority to deal with any crime but treason, the ONLY crime named and defined in the Constitution. Two reasons FedGov must butt out of the marijuana issue.. in fact, ALL “controlled substances”/

    As to Kim Davis, she is an elected official in her county and state, and has sworn an oath to uphold those. I have read the relevant sections of Kentucky’s Constitution, and she IS upholding that document, and the US one as well. Huckabee is not seeing clearly. And he wants to be president? No chance

  17. For me, legalizing pot and defining marriage is a constitutional function of the several States–NOT of the federal government!!!! 10th Amendment is crystal-clear on this point.

  18. So mystical conservative prohibitionists are lecturing Reason editors on rules of logical inference… for what kind of political State? What next? Mohammedan hijackers?

  19. Read this and weep: (or laugh. or kill yourself. hard to know) “DEAR QUEER NATION (AND ALL OTHER TAXPAYERS): YOU PAID FOR KIM DAVIS’S LAWYER. Read the researched and ruinous truth at THE PICKFORD WORD blog, found at MOVIESFORYOURMIND.NET. Vero Nihil Verius (And by the way. The blog author is neither liberal, progressive, or a Democrat. The author is just anti-theocracy.)

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