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Source: (consider it) Thread: Man The Barricades!
Gramps49
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Republicans are so hepped up on states rights, but at this moment Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a resumption of the prosecution of anyone selling marijuana or possessing it, contradicting the Obama administration's hands-off approach, allowing states to decide for themselves if pot should be legal.

Our Constitution does allow Congress to pass laws governing the interstate sale of commodities, but of the states that have voted to legalize marijuana are very specific in allowing weed that is only grown within the state to be sold in the state.

And the grass growers have to maintain highly secured growing operations and pass stringent criminal background checks. The sellers also have to pass very tough checks as well.

Six states and the District of Columbia have now passed laws legalizing marijuana. In my state, it was passed by people's initiative five years ago. Funny, how Jeff Sessions took the action the day after Pot became legal in California. Seems like he is intent on punishing one of the bluest states in the Union.

The attorney generals of the states where pot is legal have said they will fight this new directive in court. The ACLU is joining in. It is even predicted that should the feds even bring such a case to court it will likely be nullified by the jury because 64% of the American population are in favor of legalizing marijuana.

The Green Revolution continues.

[ 06. January 2018, 04:46: Message edited by: Gramps49 ]

Posts: 2111 | From: Pullman WA | Registered: Apr 2011  |  IP: Logged
simontoad
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and I saw a story indicating that Trump said this was a matter for the states during the campaign. Looks like states' rights is republican bullshit too. Having said that, it is handy to have a variety of centres of power in the USA at this particular point.

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Human

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Golden Key
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# 1468

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Hmmmm...so states' rights don't matter when the issue is recreational pot; but they do matter when it comes to school curricula, keeping people from voting or having their votes counted, and keeping offensive symbols and statuary.

Hmmm.
[Roll Eyes]

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

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Schroedinger's cat

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I suspect this will be ignored. Another case showing that the power of the administration is pretty much gone.

OK, they have the legal power, but they have lost the moral power, the power of persuasion. An they don't realise that this is important.

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Arethosemyfeet
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Golden key: you forgot to mention owning people as chattel, preventing them from voting but still counting 2/3 of them towards your representation.
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Stetson
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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
I suspect this will be ignored. Another case showing that the power of the administration is pretty much gone.

OK, they have the legal power, but they have lost the moral power, the power of persuasion. An they don't realise that this is important.

What I've read is that the new policy returns the situation to the pre-Cole Memo status quo, ie. restores the right of U.S. Attorneys to lay charges, but doesn't order them to do. So, it's still gonna be up to the discretion of officials in Colorado, California, for example, to decide if they really want to do that.

And I have to put part of the blame for this legal limbo on the fact that no one at the federal level had the guts to go ahead and outright deschedule marijuana, but just thought that they'd rely on a memo that could easily be reversed.

(Though I guess if weed had been descheduled, the logical corollary would be for the feds to stop giving ALL the states funding for that portion of drug-enforcement that goes toward marijuana, and states that remain prohibitionist wouldn't like that.)

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Enoch
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I don't know enough about the US constitution. Are there two sets of courts, one to try federal crimes and one to try state ones? And what determines which crimes are the responsibility of the federal legislature to create and which the state legislature can create? And if there's a conflict, if the federal government tries to make criminal what is within the state's powers to decide or if a state criminalises (or in this case the opposite) something which presumably the federal government claims is its pigeon, who decides and how is it decided? After all, if it's a matter for the states to decide whether they can execute people, doesn't this mean all or most criminal law is a state matter.

Or are these silly questions that show that as a foreigner, I just don't understand?

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rolyn
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My perception of America and it's law, (not that I know a darn thing about it), is that you get this 'push me, pull you' —Dr. Doolittle concept regarding State Law.
You seem to have individual laws for individual States allowing you to try stuff out, rather like England does with Scotland,(banning smoking in public places etc.)

Then there is the shock horror bit we sometimes hear about of States like California being declared Bankrupt, yet nothing much really comes of any of it. Not that this has much to do with OP.

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Change is the only certainty of existence

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Stetson
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
I don't know enough about the US constitution. Are there two sets of courts, one to try federal crimes and one to try state ones? And what determines which crimes are the responsibility of the federal legislature to create and which the state legislature can create? And if there's a conflict, if the federal government tries to make criminal what is within the state's powers to decide or if a state criminalises (or in this case the opposite) something which presumably the federal government claims is its pigeon, who decides and how is it decided? After all, if it's a matter for the states to decide whether they can execute people, doesn't this mean all or most criminal law is a state matter.

Or are these silly questions that show that as a foreigner, I just don't understand?

An American can correct me, but I think the federal government can declare anything it wants a federal crime, as long as it's regarded as having some effect on "inter-state commerce". This has led to come controversial annexations of responsibility by the federal government, such as the Federal Kidnapping Act. You can read the official reasons for that law at the link, bit I suspect that it had at least as much to do with public emotion around the Lindbergh baby.

Also, I believe if a crime is committed against the personnel or property of the federal government, it's federal. For example, if I shoot a letter-carrier making his daily rounds, the FBI can step in and claim jurisdiction. (Or maybe I've just seen too many movies.)

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Tortuf
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Our Constitution has a Supremacy Clause:
quote:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
A few years later the 10th Amendment was adopted:
quote:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Balancing the tension between the two is the job of the Supremes. They may not always do it right, but that is their job. Congress and the President - meh.

In the case of that killer drug reefer my belief is that interstate commerce in marijuana is distinctly in the realm of federal law and state law. (It involves the illegal substance being in a state.) That means federal enforcement of interstate commerce in marijuana can be prosecuted in federal court, even if it involves it passing through a state where it is legalized.

Federal law inhibited marijuana growth and distribution even before this change in policy as no known multi-state bank will allow deposits from marijuana trade. Only an handful of state only banks will allow accounts to be opened for marijuana money.

As to the wisdom of what General Sessions did:

Hey the Fifties called. They want Jeff Sessions back.

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Gramps49
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Here is a link to the US Constitution. Read Article One, Section 8. It is very specific in what Congress is authorized on what it can do. Then there is the 10th Amendment that states any power not granted to the feds in the constitution or prohibited to states shall be the right of the states or the people.

Consequently, the Federal government cannot determine what or what it can rule on without taking into consideration the 10th Amendment.

Later amendments also guarantee the universal rights of citizens and all who reside within our borders.

Our federal system seems very complicated to outsiders, I grant you. We are always fighting over states rights vs federal powers.

Yes, there is a two-court system in the US. The state's courts deal primarily with common crimes and misdemeanors. The federal courts deal with crimes against the nation. Thus, shooting a postman on his appointed rounds is a federal crime, but shooting a police officer on her appointed rounds would be a state crime. But, if a felon convicted of a state crime can show his or her federal rights have been abridged, s/he can appeal all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary.

Yes, the new memo says it will be up to the US Attorney of a particular state to enforce the federal laws regarding marijuana, but if he or she doesn't, Sessions can ask for his/her resignation. The Senators of the states who allow for the sale and use of marijuana in their respective states, though, have said they will hold up any appointment of new US Attorneys until Sessions rescinds the new directive or the US Supreme Court decides the issue. A third possibility would be until a new administration that is more open to states rights is in power.

But it has been my experience that from the very beginning of the party the Republicans have always wanted to give more power to the federal government (even though they claim to be for states rights) and the Democratic party has been more open to state rights (even though the other side has been accusing them of the opposite recently).

Posts: 2111 | From: Pullman WA | Registered: Apr 2011  |  IP: Logged
Dave W.
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The Congressional Research Service (a branch of the Library of Congress) prepared a report on this topic in 2013: Congressional Authority to Enact Criminal Law.

The constitution gives Congress the power to enact criminal law in certain specific areas (e.g. counterfeiting, piracy) as well as broader responsibilities along with the power to pass laws "necessary and proper" to carry them out. The "necessary and proper" clause has been combined with the explicitly granted power to regulate interstate commerce to justify large expanses of federal law, including the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, within which marijuana is specifically cited as a Schedule 1 controlled substance (alongside heroin and LSD - in fact, it's listed right between LSD and mescaline.)

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Enoch
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If a person is prosecuted for taking drugs, rather than exporting them from one state to another, is that normally enforced by the federal or the state police. Is it normally prosecuted under federal or state law, and in which court? Having now read section 8, from outside any tradition of US jurisprudence, it's difficult to see how that is legitimately a federal matter.

I'm wondering whether this might be why in a lot of other polities that have different tiers of legislative competence, they don't have separate hierarchies of courts or police. One set of courts and police is responsible for the lot.

[ 06. January 2018, 17:37: Message edited by: Enoch ]

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Gramps49
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Yes, it is confusing.

The federal regulations regarding banks and drug money prevent the growers and retailers from making direct deposits or loans through the federal system. As has been pointed out, though, there are a few state-chartered banks that are accepting the marijuana business. In my community, Walmart has become the "bank" of choice for the pot retailers here. They can come in, take out money orders, and do their business that way. The local banks can then accept the money orders without a problem (wink, wink).

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Og, King of Bashan

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Congress can and should act. Half of Colorado’s Republican house members have already called Sessions out on this, and our Republican Senator has openly threatened to block all Justice Department nominations until he steps back. Legal recreational marijuana ain’t going away. This is going to be a disaster for the Justice Department. A majority of Americans think it should be legal. Let’s just cut the charade, de schedule, and let the states legalize if they want.

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"I like to eat crawfish and drink beer. That's despair?" ― Walker Percy

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Dave W.
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
If a person is prosecuted for taking drugs, rather than exporting them from one state to another, is that normally enforced by the federal or the state police.

Neither, apparently. The manufacture, distribution, sale, or possession of a controlled substance is illegal, but its actual use generally isn't.
quote:
Is it normally prosecuted under federal or state law, and in which court?

Here's a defense lawyer's take on what makes a drug crime a federal offense. Generally it depends on the jurisdiction of the offense, whether someone informed on you for leniency in a federal case, decisions between state and federal employees, and the seriousness of the offense.
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simontoad
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Has someone told Hunter Thompson's lawyer?

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Human

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:

Yes, there is a two-court system in the US. The state's courts deal primarily with common crimes and misdemeanors. The federal courts deal with crimes against the nation. Thus, shooting a postman on his appointed rounds is a federal crime, but shooting a police officer on her appointed rounds would be a state crime. But, if a felon convicted of a state crime can show his or her federal rights have been abridged, s/he can appeal all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary.

The Aust constitution is very closely modelled on that of the US and so similar problems can arise here.

Courts exercising Federal jurisdiction deal with breaches of federal law; State courts deal with the remainder is a better way of putting it. Federal law can only deal with matters ron which the Union can legislate under the constitution, all other matters being for the States. Most criminal law all the way from a simple break, enter and steal to murder is state law. So it's not just common crimes and misdemeanours, and the seriousness of the offence has no bearing on whether it is a State o Union matter.

There are some overlaps. Posts and telegraphs are matters for federal law, and by extension that has been interpreted as including radio, television and now the internet. So a person can be charged under State law with the possession of child pornography, that being a print of material downloaded. Accessing and downloading the material involves the wrongful use of a carriage service which is an offence under Federal law. With the much smaller population here than in the US, we do not have federal courts dealing with criminal law, and so there are provisions in place such that State courts can exercise federal jurisdiction. So both charges would be dealt with together.

All rather simplified, but by and large it works with no problems. When problems do arise, they're terrible.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by Tortuf:
Hey the Fifties called. They want Jeff Sessions back.

Yeah, the 1850s.

quote:
Originally posted by Gramps49:
Yes, there is a two-court system in the US. The state's courts deal primarily with common crimes and misdemeanors. The federal courts deal with crimes against the nation. Thus, shooting a postman on his appointed rounds is a federal crime, but shooting a police officer on her appointed rounds would be a state crime. But, if a felon convicted of a state crime can show his or her federal rights have been abridged, s/he can appeal all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary.

In rarer cases federal courts have been used to convict those who have escaped justice in corrupt state courts. A popular tactic during the crackdown on the Ku Klux Klan, an organization notoriously difficult to convict in local courts, was to charge the accused with violating the civil rights of their victims. (e.g. United States v. Price, the "Mississippi Burning" case.) This avoids the Constitution's prohibition against double jeopardy since the crimes prosecuted at a federal level (violation of civil rights) are different crimes than those prosecuted at a state level (murder).

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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