Joseph Reisert, Harriet S. Wiswell and George C. Wiswell Jr. Associate Professor of American Constitutional Law, published a column Jan. 9 in which he asserts that Congress should “embrace federalism”—the idea that state governments should regulate local matters while federal government should regulate only those things that states can’t, such as interstate commerce and foreign policy—and amend the Controlled Substances Act to make federal regulation of marijuana accommodate the laws of individual states.
“In states like Colorado that legalize marijuana, the pot business then would become legal under both federal and state law,” Reisert said. “In states that continued to want restriction, the existing federal laws would remain in place, as would the ban on interstate commerce in marijuana.” Otherwise, Reisert noted, the conflict between federal and state law “inevitably puts the president in a difficult position. He either has to direct the federal authorities to crack down in the permissive states, against the wishes of the voters there, or he can tell federal agents to look the other way, which undermines the rule of law.”