The disparity between state and federal law regarding marijuana may be coming to a head, but what if the American public could ultimately put an end to the “war on drugs” through the power of the purse?
On Thursday, February 23, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that the federal government may soon crack down on states that have legalized recreational marijuana.
“I do believe you will see greater enforcement of it,” he said during his press briefing in reference to federal drug laws.
Spicer added that the administration differentiates between medical and recreational use. “Medical marijuana, I’ve said before, the president understands the pain and suffering many people go through who are facing terminal diseases, and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can give to them,” he said. “There’s a big difference between that and recreational marijuana.”
The press secretary then attempted to link marijuana use to the growing opioid epidemic in the United States: “When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people,” he said.
However, as even the Washington Post pointed out, the “evidence isn’t on Spicer’s side” on this one, and that’s putting it mildly. In fact, there is growing body of evidence that suggests cannabis use could actually help ease the opioid crisis, including a recent medical study published last October.
Nevertheless, critics of the Donald Trump administration had previously warned that the appointment of Jeff Sessions as attorney general — a fierce opponent of marijuana legalization — pointed to an impending federal clampdown on legal weed, and Spicer’s recent statements have only reinforced those fears.
Add to that the move by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) last December to classify cannabidiol (CBD) oil as a Schedule I drug (i.e. a “drug with no medical use”), and the picture looks quite bleak indeed.
But what if we could change all that?
What if these drug warriors suddenly lacked the funds to pursue their misguided agenda?
The people have clearly spoken on this issue by voting to legalize medical marijuana in more than half the country — 28 states and counting — with eight of those states having legalized it outright. As it stands, one in five Americans currently live in a state where they can freely light up, even without a doctor’s prescription. There is no denying that the tide has turned on marijuana prohibition since the days of “Just Say No.”
And since Congress is unable or unwilling to enact the will of the people on this issue, direct action is what’s necessary, as demonstrated by the gradual, state-by-state movement to end this prohibition.
Even still, the federal government seems poised to reassert its authority over the matter and override state law. But what if citizens could take action beyond the ballot box and vote with their tax dollars as well?
If Americans were allowed to choose which federal agencies to fund with their tax money come April 15, how many millions of people would opt to divert money away from the DEA? The winds of change suggest it would be more than enough to send our nation’s drug cops a clear message.
In practical terms, giving Americans the option to defund the DEA would be as easy as introducing a federal “tax-expenditure check-off” — like the Presidential Election Campaign Fund — to federal tax forms. Individuals would then have the option to simply check a box and “opt out” of funding the DEA or any other government agency that they find to be wasteful, corrupt, or otherwise harmful.
This would empower the American people to hold government agencies like the DEA directly accountable and ensure that government policy actually reflects their will.
Without the money to enforce its war on marijuana, the federal government’s position on legalization — whether it’s coming from the White House, Congress, or the DEA — would be completely irrelevant.
What’s more, the personal opinions of Sean Spicer, Jeff Sessions, or The Donald himself — on marijuana or anything else, for that matter — would be rendered utterly meaningless — as they should be. After all, why should the words of a press secretary make the residents of California tremble with fear that their newly legalized behavior may be targeted?
In a truly voluntary tax system, the power would once again rest in the hands of the people — where it belongs. The movement to end marijuana prohibition on a state by state basis has been successful, but it’s going to take a tax revolution to ensure these victories are not in vain.