Mises Wire

Republican AGs Declare Colorado a “Drug Cartel,” Demand Federal Intervention

As part of their efforts to force federal intervention in Colorado to overturn local legalization of marijuana, the Republican attorneys general of Oklahoma and Nebraska have now taken to describing the State of Colorado as a “drug cartel”:

In sharply written arguments, the two states said Colorado “has created a massive criminal enterprise whose sole purpose is to authorize and facilitate the manufacture, distribution, sale and use of marijuana.”

“The State of Colorado authorizes, oversees, protects and profits from a sprawling $100 million per-month marijuana growing, processing and retailing organization that exported thousands of pounds of marijuana to some 36 States in 2014,” the states’ new brief says...

Colorado told the Supreme Court in March that Oklahoma and Nebraska “filed this case in an attempt to reach across their borders and selectively invalidate state laws with which they disagree.” 

While the AGs have accidentally stumbled on the illuminating idea that a monopolistic state is indeed a criminal enterprise, they don’t mean it that way. All they really want is to transfer wealth from the taxpayers of Colorado to the politicians of Nebraska and Oklahoma. Oklahoma, a net tax receiver state, already lives off the sweat of taxpayers from other states (including Colorado), but apparently, that isn’t enough. 

In a case that has revealed a disturbing affinity for federal power over local control, the Nebraska and Oklahoma AGs have demanded that the Supreme Court essentially declare what is left of federalism to be null and void.

Ironically, it is the Obama administration that has taken a laissez-faire approach here and allowed what is essentially local nullification of federal law. (But not in terms of banking regulation.)

Moreover, the very same AGs have invoked federalism in the federal courts in an effort to declare their states exempt from the requirements of Obamacare. The GOP leadership in these two states apparently doesn’t understand (doubtful) or doesn’t care (much more likely) that a victory in their marijuana cases against Colorado would weaken their attempts to maintain independence in the face of Obamacare. 

In their effort to expand federal law, federal regulation, and federal control over the states, these AGs are echoing GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie who has declared that, if elected president, he wil be sure to imprison law-abiding citizens in Western states who follow state and local law instead of federal law.  

Meanwhile, numerous Republicans in Western states have been busy claiming that the states should have more control over the large amounts of federal land. In other words, they want more decentralization

If advocates for more local control over land want a federal court system that can find any leeway at all for their legal claims, local and state activists had better hope that the AGs in Oklahoma and Nebraska fail. And certainly, the activists should be thankful that Chris Christie is not president, since, if he were ”enforcing federal law” with all the unrestrained toughness he claims to possess, those Oregon protestors would have already been rounded up and thrown in federal prison. Or possibly killed. 

One of the down sides of freedom and decentralization is that it means sometimes having to tolerate neighbors who do things we don’t like. Coloradans understand this all too well. They’ve been tolerating the unfortunate presence of Nebraska and Oklahoma for more than a century. 

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