Voters in North Dakota and Arkansas have approved ballot measures legalizing medical marijuana, taking a first step toward nullifying the unconstitutional federal prohibition of cannabis in effect.
Arkansas has become the first state in the Bible Belt to legalize medical marijuana.
With their approval of Issue 6 on Tuesday, voters will allow patients with a variety of medical conditions and a doctor’s permission to buy marijuana from dispensaries. Patients won’t be allowed to grow their own.
With 90% of precincts reporting, the measure passed by a margin of 53-47.
In North Dakota, Measure 5 will legalize medical marijuana to treat some medical conditions, such as cancer, AIDS and hepatitis C. Patients will need identification cards listing specific criteria. A similar measure failed to reach the ballot in 2012.
It was approved by a margin of 64-36.
These states were among eight with measures on the ballot to to legalize marijuana for either for medical or general adult use today. This is the largest number of states that have considered nullifying marijuana prohibition in a single election cycle.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION
Legalization of medical marijuana in Arkansas and North Dakota removes a major layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana.
While the new state laws will not alter federal law, they take a step toward nullifying the federal ban in practice and effect. FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By easing state prohibition, both states essentially sweep away part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
Arkansas and North Dakota join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have all legalized both recreational and medical marijuana, and more than two-dozen states now allow cannabis for medical use. With half the country legalizing marijuana, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more. The feds need state cooperation to fight the “drug war,” and that has rapidly evaporated in the last few years with state legalization, practically nullifying the ban.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.