Anti-Pot Oklahoma Legislator Celebrates the Death of His State's Anti-Pot Lawsuit

Where other conservatives see cannabis chaos, Mike Ritze sees a victory for federalism.


Office of Mike Ritze

In a Tulsa World op-ed piece published yesterday, Oklahoma legislator Mike Ritze, a conservative Republican, celebrates the Supreme Court's refusal to hear his state's lawsuit challenging marijuana legalization in neighboring Colorado. Ritze, who represents Broken Arrow in Oklahoma's House, was one of seven state legislators who complained about the lawsuit in a December 2014 letter to Attorney General Scott Pruitt. Ritze says he "firmly" opposes marijuana legalization. But unlike Pruitt, an avowed federalist, Ritze takes the 10th Amendment and the doctrine of enumerated powers seriously:

The lawsuit essentially claimed that because a federal statute and a few U.N. treaties ban marijuana, Colorado has no choice but to not only accept prohibition, but to help enforce it.

But that's simply wrong.

First of all, the U.S. Constitution does not delegate any power to the federal government in this area. That is why alcohol prohibition in 1920 necessitated a properly ratified constitutional amendment to be adopted at the federal level.

If the U.S. Constitution does not delegate any powers to the feds in the area of marijuana prohibition, and it doesn't, Washington, D.C., has no business ratifying international treaties or passing federal statutes acting as if it possessed those powers.

The U.S. Constitution only says statutes and treaties created in pursuance with the Constitution are the supreme law of the land. Any power grabs undertaken in defiance of that Constitution are mere usurpations that states have a duty to nullify….

Secondly, even if those U.N. treaties and federal statutes were constitutional, the U.S. Constitution does not allow the federal government to compel a state to criminalize something. Nor can the federal government commandeer state or local government resources in pursuit of its own policy agendas.

Office of Scott Pruitt

Although Pruitt did not claim that the Supremacy Clause requires Colorado to recriminalize the cultivation, possession, and sale of marijuana, he argued that the state's licensing and regulation of commercial production and distribution conflicts with the Controlled Substances Act and harms Oklahoma because some Colorado cannabis ends up there. If he had gotten his way, the result could have been a free, unregulated market in marijuana, which libertarians might celebrate but pot prohibitionists like Pruitt presumably would not. Still, Ritze is right that Pruitt wanted the Supreme Court to override Colorado's laws because he thought they made it harder for Oklahoma and the federal government to enforce their bans on marijuana.

Note that Ritze does not merely object that such an imposition would violate the state autonomy recognized by the 10th Amendment. He also argues (correctly) that the Constitution does not authorize Congress to ban marijuana to begin with, just as it did not authorize Congress to ban alcohol until the ratification of the 18th Amendment in 1919. In his 2014 letter to Pruitt, Ritze noted that the Controlled Substances Act rests on a reading of the power to regulate interstate commerce that the Supreme Court developed in the late 1930s and early '40s—a reading so broad that it allows Congress to do pretty much anything it wants, as long as it is not explicitly forbidden by the Constitution. Fair-weather federalists like Pruitt reject that understanding of the Commerce Clause in the context of Obamacare and other policies they do not like but embrace it when it's convenient.

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  1. Pot heads, pot heads
    Roly poly pot heads
    Pot heads, pot heads
    Beat them up, dumb

    1. A Barnes and Barnes reference? You sicken me. You could have at least referenced Napoleon XIV.

      1. Ok then…

        Last week, Japanese scientists placed explosive detonators in Iowa to blow Potheads out of the state. Sir Cort Godfrey of the Pothead Alliance summoned the help of Iowa’s local wizards to cast a protective spell over the state and its local residents and allow those who seek for the peaceful existence of the terminally stoned.

  2. Honestly, I respect that a lot. Libertarians could use more people in the two parties that want to keep laws decentralized, even if their laws are against our purposes. With government officials like that, it frees up officials in a different state or locality to set a better policy; taken to its extreme, it creates something of a policy free market where if your city decides jaywalkers should face life in prison, people (and employers) just head to a less shitty place.

  3. A principled conservative? That’s like five of them now, isn’t it? Maybe we should start keeping track of these people so when the GOP implosion happens and the libertarianish splinter group forms its own third party we know who to sign up first.

    1. Spoiler!

      That man is an alien. Those eyes! That gritted-teeth smile! You can’t tell me there are no Lizard genes in him. I know better.

      *taps side of nose*

      1. I notice that he looks remarkably like our universally-hated vice principal in junior high.

        1. Mine was a universally-hated balding man with a ponytail. We put a bounty on the ponytail.

          1. Is that what the Wizard asked for as proof?

            1. Exactly. Dorothy. *scoffs* So naif. Any teenager with attitude could see that the real solution was to offer money to anyone brave and stupid enough to pull that gag off, and retire to the bar to find that chick in the green. Raaawr.

  4. Nor can the federal government commandeer state or local government resources in pursuit of its own policy agendas.

    All Writs Act? Just get a federal judge to order it.

  5. Ritze, who represents Broken Arrow in Oklahoma’s House…

    I’ve often said that John Woo films need equal representation in government. I’m glad to see Oklahoma has finally heeded my call.

    1. You want to promote a comment? There’s your prime candidate right there.

      1. It is Howie Long’s second-best film.

    2. Sorry. Broken Arrow is a city just outside of Tulsa. Oklahoma has a lot of indian names and references, for some *strange* reason. 😉

  6. What in the fuckity fuck is this promoted comment business? And who promoted *Crusty*??

    1. A degenerate wot should never be allowed near the internets.

      Spoiled for choice, really.

    2. The fine print sez you have to purchase points to promote your comments. And still no edit button.

  7. Think Geek is notorious for inventing fake products on April Fool’s Day, so unfortunately this probably isn’t real, but it needs to be.


    How many of your roleplaying adventures start out in a bar? This one promises not only to start out there but also to end there. Meet the drinking game for roleplayers – baRPG.

    What makes baRPG special? Your character is represented by one of four pint glasses, each filled with your beverage of choice to the 100 hitpoint level to start. More liquid = more HP. As players venture into the dungeon, flipping over hex cards and fighting monsters, you may lose hit points and be forced to drink accordingly. baRPG has the mechanics of a dungeon crawl but none of the higher math that’s sometimes involved in tabletop sessions (which becomes significantly more tricky with alcohol). The end goal is to secure the elusive Treasure hex card and force the rest of your adventuring party to chug. But it’s not as easy as it may at first appear….

    1. “The skeleton archer begins drawing his bow back. Roll for init–”

      “I jump in front of my companions and sacrifice myself.” *chugs pint* “Okay, resurrect me.”

  8. Any power grabs undertaken in defiance of that Constitution are mere usurpations that states have a duty to nullify….

    Someone doesn’t want federal transportation money.

  9. “On select articles, Reason is testing a new comment promotion feature developed by SolidOpinion. Commenters can purchase points and bid to promote their comments and/or the comments of others. Winning comments are displayed at the top of the comment thread for each article, and are identified as “promoted comments.” Point purchases and bidding are handled SolidOpinion. Please send any questions and feedback to

    1. Tired of our shit, the staff are trolling back in self-defense.

      1. If SF doesn’t promote some choice Warty Hugeman content, I will.

    2. This better be a fucking 4/1 joke.

      1. Squirrels ate half my comment!

        Anyway, I was going to say I hope it’s an April Fools joke, but since reason can’t stop their site from periodically crashing and appears to employ 0 people to spell check their articles, I doubt they’d take the time to create a fake feature to troll us.

        1. They don’t have to hire anyone because Nikki, I and various other anal-retentive types do their copy editing for free.

    3. I am trying to figure out if this is due to today’s date or another thing that wouldn’t have happened when Postrel was in charge.

      1. +1 Stylishly-Dressed Middle-Aged Woman

    4. This is a way to get Fist’s comments away from the top.

    5. How much are the points? Can I down vote crusty with my points? If so, I’ll take a bakers dozen.

  10. Oh my God, SolidOpinion is a real site!

    This actually increases the probability it’s an April Fool’s Joke because all they had to do was sign up.

      1. Playa scoffs at your regulatory confinement and elitist obstacles to market entry, Reason.



          1. Whore.

  11. If he had gotten his way, the result could have been a free, unregulated market in marijuana

    Can anyone explain that to me?

    1. The return to the black market

  12. I for one welcome H&R’s newfound focus on “Marijuana and Partying”, with a side-order of Trump.

    1. Side order of Trump? He is the suckling pig at the center.

  13. Holy shit, a conservative who applies federalism consistently?

    1. Yeah, I just finished doing CPR on this guy named Diogenes; he didn’t make it.

  14. Mean old man!

    An activist from Greenpeace approached Clinton to ask if the candidate would “reject fossil-fuel money in the future” in her campaign. Clinton, incensed, replied that her contributions came from employees of oil companies — not the companies themselves — and that she was “so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me.”

    Lawyerly evasions a specialty.

    1. Sucks to be beaten at your own game, eh wot?

  15. Couple firsts with my lunch.

    Elk burger: it taste kind of bitter. I’ll try it elsewhere but not a fan so far.

    Boulevard tank 7: nice light hoppy beer. Would drink again

    Collingwood rye: semi-sweet, good heat, smooth, not very complex. I prefer my rye more spicy/floral, this seems closer to a bourbon.

    1. Update. Got to chatting with the bar tender. Got a couple free pours.

      Redemption rye: more floral, lots of spice and heat. Recommended for hardcore rye fans

      Crown rye: basically standard crown with a kick of spice.

      1. Got a couple free pours.

        I hate you.

        1. When you spend a third of your income on booze, maybe the bartender will be more friendly with you.

  16. You guys been over to Free Thought Project today? There’s an april fools article about Obama supposedly removing pot from schedule 1. The butthurt in the comments is…..palpable.


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