(The Wall Street Journal) As former administrators of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, we believe that Proposition 19 to legalize marijuana in California is a grave misstep. The ballot measure is being promoted by legalization lobbyists on the grounds that taxes raised from the sale of the drug will help the state with its financial crises. This simply isn’t true.
That’s because if passed by voters in November, Proposition 19—also known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010—will be in direct conflict with the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a federal law that makes the production and sale of marijuana a federal crime. In our federal system, a state law that conflicts with a federal law violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and is void.
The CSA itself clearly states that federal law overrides state law when there is a positive conflict between the two jurisdictions. Thus there is very little likelihood that anyone is going to be paying sales taxes to the state of California or its municipalities when to do so would be admitting the commission of a federal felony.
Wait, you mean people who buy and sell cannabis in California won’t pay sales taxes? You mean, like now, under Prop 215, where medical marijuana is just as illegal under federal law?
So what exactly was I reading about the state’s taxing authority, the Board of Equalization, admitting that marijuana sales taxes have raised over $100 million in revenue for the state?
Sorry, drug tsareviches, the scare won’t take, because you already used it in 1996. And with Prop 19, you won’t even have the power to go after all those federal felonies, like you have under Prop 215. The federal raids in California of legal dispensaries since 1996 are always coordinated with support of state, county, and local law enforcement, because there just aren’t enough G-men to police the nation’s most populous state. Prop 19 specifically forbids state, county, and local law enforcement from assisting in any operations to prosecute anyone for lawfully growing marijuana under Prop 19 or Prop 215:
Section 11303: Seizure
(a) Notwithstanding sections 11470 and 11479 of the Health and Safety Code or any other provision of law, no state or local law enforcement agency or official shall attempt to, threaten to, or in fact seize or destroy any cannabis plant, cannabis seeds or cannabis that is lawfully cultivated, processed, transported, possessed, possessed for sale, sold or used in compliance with this Act or any local government ordinance, law or regulation adopted pursuant to this Act.