Issues across the nation in regards to boundaries between federal and state laws have been occurring since the creation of the Constitution. Whenever an opinion differs towards any given law there will be a process that will put the integrity of that law into question.
In reply to an inquiry concerning cannabis laws to Utah state Governor Gary Herbert, his office stated that Herbert “supports current law[s] regarding marijuana use in Utah. [That] there is no need to change laws that work and are supported by a majority of Utahns.”
According to Jeremiah Bowen, a junior studying constitutional law and Studies
at UVU, the issues concerning the legalization of Cannabis are a prime example of how our state leaders don’t always understand how their decisions affect the communities they represent. How could the Federal and State Govern- ments cooperate in respect to the rights
of what the people of each state deem fit for their communities if the law makers
in each state have such differing opinions without the willingness to talk about the laws’ implications?
“The Tenth amendment states that
any power not expressly given by the Constitution to the Federal Government should be given to the State Governments to make their own laws and regulations,” Bowen said. “However, a specific section called the ‘ Elastic Clauses’ has caused resistance from the Federal Government towards certain State laws.”
According to Bowen, the Elastic Clause provides Congress the power to insure that the condition of the Federal Government remains constant, even if that means overriding the States’ laws or regulations. People, generally, are going to do what they are going to do. Even when the federal government tells a state what
to do, the people of that state will still participate in the activities they see as socially or morally acceptable.
Ryan Swenson, a senior studying political science at the University of Utah has made a comparison between the prohibition of alcohol and cannabis through underground trafficking of the illegal substance.
“What both Gangsters of the 20’s-30’s and current drug cartels have in common is money,” Swenson said. “However, the Gangsters were living in the United States while current day drug cartels
do not. Why haven’t people seen that keeping [marijuana use] illegal enables drug cartels the ability to gain power through finances, deepening our own economic situation? ”
In regards to the economy, Swenson explains that there have been two separate instance when cannabis has helped our country’s economy.
“Until the 1850’s, cannabis was the number one resource used for almost everything,” Swenson said. “The second instances was after laws passed to criminalize Cannabis in the 1940s were lifted during World War II. This was done to better equip soldiers and also to allow farmers who had previously mass produced cannabis to once again provide financial support to the war efforts.”
According to Swenson, the states that have legalized marijuana have done so to promote their own economic growth.
“So why does the Federal Government punish cannabis dispensaries when that money would have otherwise been moved out of country to cartels who are able to purchase man power and technology to continue moving drugs across borders,” says Swenson. “The submarine discovered in July of last year used to smuggle drugs, was an example of this.”
When asked to clarify his stance on laws concerning drug cartels and if there would be some type of reports available to Utahns about the economic viability of cannabis legalization, Governor Herbert’s office had no comment.