The struggle over states’ rights versus federal control is as much philosophical as it is political. Since before the ratification of the Constitution and the early days of the American Revolution, prominent historical figures debated the proper way to separate power and just how much freedom people should have from their government.
Would a strong central government be preferable to the safety and security of society, or would a limited government with a strong emphasis on control by the people work better?
The biggest test of federal control is the topic of marijuana. For decades now, various states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. When treating illnesses and dealing with health problems, should individuals have the right to dictate what they try for treatment?
The question is fairly straight forward and, in a free society, people would have the right to control their own bodies. This includes controlling what does and doesn’t enter our own bodies, as well as controlling what they try for treatment when dealing with various health problems.
But what about recreational use of marijuana?
The question came forward in Maine in the form of a referendum. After a bitter, controversy battle, the legalization crowd barely won with a lead of less than three thousand votes. While a recount challenge is being prepared, Governor Paul LePage is already raising his own doubts and implying he will not enforce the law.
Governor LePage has established a reputation during his time in office for standing up what he believes in. He has refused to back down against the federal government on topics such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare” and welfare reform. More recently, he has backed out of the federal refugee program.
It is for this reason, the Governor’s logic on marijuana decriminalization makes little sense. In a radio interview discussing the will of the people, he stated he will have to consult President-Elect Donald Trump before deciding what he will do.
You read that right: no-nonsense, pro-limited government Paul LePage will be deciding his plans based on what the incoming President decides.
The federal government has long prohibited the use of marijuana and other drugs as part of a costly, questionably constitutional war on drugs. While Governor LePage has been willing to defy the federal government when he believes they are wrong or working against the will of the Maine people. But the Governor has also been a staunch defender of the big government drug war.
The problem here for the Maine Governor doesn’t seem to be whether or not marijuana is good for Mainers, but whether or not he has permission to have his views on it. During his occupation of the Blaine House under a Democratic President, he has had no problem defying the federal government when he sees fit. But now that a Republican is taking over the White House, he has to seek permission before having a view on a Maine vote.
It’s a dangerous and reckless precedent for Governor LePage to endorse. The federal government should not be regulating our bodies or personal lives to this degree, and the spirit of the Tenth Amendment states that federal prohibition is at odds with liberty itself.