Republican U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis agrees with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas about states' rights.
Usually, a statement like this will proceed some really bad news. This time, we think you're going to like it.
In a statement highlighted by Patch earlier this week, the Minnesota congressman quotes a passage from a recent Supreme Court opinion penned by Thomas, who wrote worryingly about federal intrusion into state-level laws on medicinal or recreational marijuana.
"If Congress can regulate this [marijuana not bought, sold, or crossing state lines] under the Commerce Clause," Thomas wrote, "then it can regulate virtually anything -- and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers."
Pot is still illegal under federal law as a "Schedule I" drug, making it comparable to substances like cocaine, heroin, and meth. Barack Obama's administration took a hands-off approach to marijuana, halting any federal interruption in states that had passed their own laws.
Lewis agrees with Thomas' thinking on this issue, and wants to inscribe it in federal law. Lewis is a co-sponsor of one bill to let states set their own policy, and another to move marijuana off the Schedule I restrictions, which would make it easier for medical research to get approval.
Lewis also signed onto a letter from Congressman Dana Rohrbacher (R-California) -- again, a guy you usually probably don't like -- who has encouraged congressional leaders to ban the use of federal funds to prosecute people whose marijuana use is legal under state law.
Leaving states to their own devices (and vices) sounds like it'd fit in nicely with a "small government" run entirely by Republicans. But anti-weed statements by Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump's pick for Attorney General, make medicinal marijuana advocates nervous about a possible federal crackdown.
Eight states have moved to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and Minnesota, with its watered-down approach, is one of 28 states that allow limited use for medicinal purposes. (Though we'll still throw you behind bars for buying and selling the stuff.)
"Where states have made laws about marijuana," Jason Lewis said in his statement, "especially medical marijuana, the federal government has no business sending the FBI and Department of Justice in to prosecute people in full compliance with their state’s law."
We... completely agree? Check this space for future occasions when we declare Jason Lewis and Clarence Thomas sound like cool guys.
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