States’ Rights and Federal Wrongs: The Misguided Attempt to Label Marijuana Legalization Efforts as a 'States’ Rights' Issue

10 Pages Posted: 14 May 2018 Last revised: 21 Oct 2018

Date Written: May 3, 2018

Abstract

Advocates for liberalization of the federal statutes outlawing cannabis have argued that the issue whether and how to regulate marijuana should be left to the states to decide. Yet, we do not allow states to decide whether to prohibit other controlled substances, such as heroin, and there is no good reason to put marijuana in a separate category. Since the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act became law in 1938 the nation has authorized the Food and Drug Administration to decide which drugs to approve for therapeutic use. We do not make those decisions the subject of a referendum because the decision requires the expert scientific judgment of professionals in medicine and biochemistry, not the moral judgment of the populace. Congress should re-examine how federal law regulates marijuana, but Congress should be guided by the judgment of the FDA as to the costs and benefits of liberalizing marijuana use.

Keywords: Marijuana, Cannabis, States' Rights, Food & Drug Administration

Suggested Citation

Larkin, Paul James, States’ Rights and Federal Wrongs: The Misguided Attempt to Label Marijuana Legalization Efforts as a 'States’ Rights' Issue (May 3, 2018). Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3172789

Paul James Larkin (Contact Author)

The Heritage Foundation ( email )

214 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002-4999
United States
202-608-6190 (Phone)

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