Federalism and Marijuana Event

Many constitutional conservatives were critical of the Supreme Court’s decision in Gonzales v. Raich, holding that the federal government’s Commerce Clause power could reach the intrastate use and possession of marijuana for medical purposes authorized under state law. Now that an ever-growing number of states has chosen to authorize marijuana use and possession — some even for recreational use — how should those on the Right respond?

On Tuesday, I’ll be in Washington, D.C. to moderate a panel that will explore this and related questions. The panel, entitled “Marijuana and the States: How Should Federalism Principles Inform the Federal Government’s Response to State Marijuana Initiatives?” is co-sponsored by the Federalist Society’s Practice Groups and the Center for Business Law and Regulation at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. The panel will include former DAG George Terwilliger, Professor John Eastman, the Buckeye Institute’s Robert Alt and Colorado Assistant SG Michael Francisco.

Here’s the panel description:

In 2013 voters in Colorado and Washington legalized the possession of marijuana under state law. Several other states allow the possession and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Yet marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The Justice Department has not sought to preempt these decisions, and has outlined a new enforcement policy that largely defers to state law enforcement on the assumption that states will effectively regulate the sale and possession of marijuana. Are the Justice Department’s efforts to accommodate state decisions about marijuana policy prudent or irresponsible? Could it do more? Should the federal government defer to state voters on the desirability of marijuana prohibition? How should principles of federalism inform the federal government’s response to state initiatives on marijuana? Can the federal government allow states to decriminalize marijuana possession and sale without undermining the rule of law?

The event is at noon at the National Press Club. Additional details and registration info here.