Free Minds & Free Markets

On Marijuana, Elizabeth Warren Discovers She Agrees With Clarence Thomas: New at Reason

More signs of the coming left-right convergence on marijuana legalization.

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/NewscomBill Clark/CQ Roll Call/NewscomSen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is in the headlines for joining with Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)to introduce the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act. That legislation would, as Warren put it in a tweet, "let states, territories, & tribes decide for themselves how best to regulate marijuana—without federal interference."

Justice Clarence Thomas is Warren's natural ally on the issue. He wrote an emphatic dissent in the 2005 Supreme Court case Gonzalez v. Raich. Gonzalez was President George W. Bush's attorney general Alberto Gonzalez, and Angel Raich is an Oakland, Calif., woman who used locally grown marijuana for medical reasons.

The dissent by Thomas focused not on the advantages or disadvantages of marijuana use but on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. That clause states, "The Congress shall have Power...To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States."

The Thomas dissent begins: "Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything—and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers."

Warren's marijuana bill is a fine example. The left now loves states' rights, or city's rights, when it comes to immigration ("sanctuary cities") and marijuana. Some state and local governments are also raising minimum wages, restricting access to firearms, or taking environmental measures such as banning plastic bags.

Yet the left's support for local control is highly situational, writes Ira Stoll.

Photo Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom


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