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Legalizing Marijuana in the U.S.
Numerous countries in the contemporary world are facing problems that have arisen due to the presence of conflict between states and federal governments. This is especially evident in countries which have constitution based on ederalism. The Framers of the Constitution of the United States of America (U.S.) and applied the Constitution in 18th century. After that, other states started making their own constitutions so that the states could be governed according to the rules set down in the constitution. Many issues popped up in this process. One major issue was that how to protect the interests of individual states and how to avoid encroachments on these interests by the Central Government. Many legal, political and social analysts and theorists have proposed different ways to cope with the problems that arise due to the persistence conflict of interests between states and central governments. Moreover, a number of political experts have proposed federalism as one of the possible solutions to deal with such issues, which are the outcomes of existence of the two laws making bodies in the same country.
Federalism is the system, which has been successfully adopted by the U.S. The U.S. is a very diverse and multiethnic country both in terms of its population and geographic boundaries. Every state has its distinct social, cultural and linguistic history, which distinguishes it from other states. These factors play a decisive role in making laws for a particular state. The legislature has to keep in mind all of these factors while making laws for these states. Federalism allows a certain degree of autonomy to the states in lawmaking and other decision-making processes. The Central Government (Congress in case of U.S.) is also responsible for lawmaking but it does not aim to infringe upon the autonomy which states exercise in lawmaking process. The above-mentioned details highlight the basic structure of ederalism, which is prevalent in the U.S. system as states exercise a certain degree of autonomy in U.S.
The above-mentioned discussion about the ederalism does not suggest that this system is flawless. One needs to keep one thing in mind that many problems exist on lawmaking issues between the states and the Congress. Many instances give the real and practical life examples of these problems. Congress enacted many laws after coming into existence. The status of these laws was ambiguous the start. This presented a very confusing and vague situation regarding the legality of these laws in individual states. A serious situation arose in cases where these laws were in complete conflict with the laws made by individual states. It possesses its benefits and drawbacks one of which became prominent when the Congress (central government) put a ban on the use of arijuana while many states of U.S. have legalized the use of . In this case, confusion arises which ultimately give rise to a conflict between the states’ laws and the laws enacted directly by Congress.
Issues arise that which laws will be enforced in such states, which have conflicting laws with the laws passed by Congress. The enforcement clause suggests that when Congress enacts any law then it has a binding effect on all states. It further suggests that the state laws will cease to have effect against any laws of the Congress. States which have legalized it will have no effect. Marijuana will remain ban in all of the states as the Congress has enacted a law, which has banned it. This law enacted by Congress is binding on all states.
This confusion is clarified in one of the case decided by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court in this case upheld the upremacy clause regarding the laws enacted by the Congress. The Supreme Court decided that the laws enacted by the Congress would have supremacy over the laws, which are enacted by states. Supreme Court held that if laws, made by Congress and states, are conflicting with each other then the laws by Congress will prevail. Moreover, it held that the laws enacted by the states would become unenforceable. The following statement clarifies this point
A case was decided in the Supreme Court in order to deal with the confusion, which existed between the enforcement of state laws and other laws which are passed by Congress. Status was confusing before decision of that case. States presumed that the conflicting laws enacted by Congress are not binding on individual states. This decision clarified the situation and determined that any violation of the laws passed by the Congress would result in sanctions. Degree of these sanctions may vary from case to case, but there will be sanctions for sure. Sanctions included both types i.e. criminal and civil in nature. Name of the case is Gonzales v. Raich. This case affirmed that Congress has the power to impose a ban on the states even if it is against the state laws.
Above mentioned discussion validates that despite the Congress laws regarding ban on arijuana, a number of states have legalized its use. The Supreme Court’s decision on this point sheds light on this major issue, but still the situation does not become clear. The situation remains confusing regarding the legitimacy of laws. The fact that many states legalized the use of marijuana specifically the medical marijuana poses different problems and dilemmas. Enacting such laws, which are contradicting the laws passed by Congress, poses a serious problem. Moreover, when we look into the situation then another major concern is about the enforcement of laws, which Congress enacts. A reason for the problems arising out of enforcement process of Congress is purely economic in nature. Congress cannot enforce its laws all over U.S. for serious budget constraints.
State laws are easy to enforce as compared to the laws passed by Congress. The major reason for that lies in fact the Congress and the ederal government does not have enough resources in order to enforce the laws effectively, which are passed by them. Moreover, another major issue that arises in this scenario is that most of the cases on marijuana are heard by the state courts. Only 1% of cases on marijuana are accepted for hearing by Supreme Court. It poses another major obstacle in enforcement of Congress’s enacted laws in its true essence.
This conflict poses many issues and questions that need the attention of the analysts. If we analyze its legalization, from a medical perspective, it becomes evident that states can mold and change our thinking by passing laws. States exercise heavy influence on people regarding private choices for their actions, personal beliefs, attitudes and other cultural norms in society that play an important role. People and especially society have always looked at marijuana in contempt, but this act of state has changed or at least attempted to change that perception. Some States encouraged a tolerant approach towards its use by legalization of medical marijuana. States have presented it as it is less harmful and more useful.
The following survey clarifies this point further in public discourse:
A survey was conducted among the ordinary people to get their views about the use of arijuana in the youth. Teenage children and their parents were asked about the use of medical marijuana. They were also asked about their views on the state laws, which legitimized medical . The written survey included 24 questions and it was distributed among the parents and their teenage children separately. This survey took place in suburban general pediatric places, which were located in Virginia, Ohio, Mason or Vienna. 393 completed surveys were received. The results showed that 13% of the teenagers admitted that they have smoked marijuana in their life. 6% of the teenagers admitted that they smoke marijuana regularly and they have smoked it in last 30 days. (Schwartz, 2003).
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