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Ron Paul’s Bill Won’t Really End the War on Drugs

June 23rd, 2011

Today, Ron Paul and Barney Frank are proposing a bill that would end the federal war on marijuana. Naturally stoners and libertarians now want to have a lemon party with them (don’t google it). And although I am an occasionally vocal proponent for legalization and decriminalization, I’m among the minority of folks who aren’t all that excited about this.

Ron Paul and Barney Frank discuss upcoming lemon party

Why? Because it is a perfect example of Ron Paul’s unprincipled wishy-washy anti-federalism. Sure I suppose I would rather see 25 or 30 individual state “wars on drugs” than one enormous federal war on drugs. But what I really want to see is no fucking wars. If Paul is really that opposed to the war on drugs, on principle, then it is flat out retarded to grant the individual states the same powers which he is attempting to strip from the Feds. Why not propose a bill that say “No more wars on drugs, neither federal, state, county, or municipality. Period.”

“Let the states decide”, as any consistent libertarian knows, is a cop-out, albeit a politically-calculated one.

Also, I hate to break it to you. This bill isn’t going to pass the House and the Senate, and even if it did I’d give it considerably less than a coin-flip’s odds of getting past Obama’s flip-flopping meet-the-new-boss-same-as-the-old-boss style “change”.  A lot of people will look at the intangibles, like how this brings the marijuana policy debate to the forefront of American politics. That’s a good thing but like my friend Matt said RP is “not the second coming of Christ” and this bill is essentially a publicity stunt.

All that said… I am not opposed to anything that strips the feds of their power, I just think that the jubilation that this bill will surely spark among many libertarians, tea partiers, social democrats, independents, etc., is not really warranted.

I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that we see legalization in the next 10-20 years, and maybe it starts with this bill, maybe not. But either way there’s still a lot of fight ahead so keep it in all in perspective.



  • Rob says on: June 23, 2011 at 2:51 pm


    “Because it is a perfect example of Ron Paul’s unprincipled wishy-washy anti-federalism.”

    Wow, David – that rather snotty statement makes me question whether you understand the concept of federalism or the Constitution.

    Ron Paul is simply pointing out that the “Federal” government (National government would be a more accurate term these days) has no constitutional authority granted to it by the States to prosecute this so-called war on drugs. That authority is reserved to the people and the States by the 10th amendment. Don’t like the idea of the States having that authority? Then amend the Constitution to forbid it to them.

    There is nothing in this bill that would require any State to continue this insane policy, and I am extremely dubious that more than a couple (like Utah or Texas) would bother if they weren’t getting buttloads of money from the Feds in order to do so.

    That said, I agree that it is unlikely that this bill will pass, and it certainly wouldn’t get Obama’s approval unless they slip it into a bill that he can’t afford to veto (like one of the appropriation bills for his unending wars overseas.)

    • David Z says on: June 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm


      I understand the principle of federalism. I don’t understand the fetish that a lot of libs and small-gov conservatives have for it. I agree that, a strict interpretation of the constitution suggests that the Feds don’t have, and never did have the authority to wage the war on drugs, just as strict interpretation of the 9th Am. would suggest that, like the explicit right guaranteed by the 2nd Am., we also have the right to keep and bear marijuana.

      But then there’s unfortunately 200+ years of “commerce clause” (mis)interpretation that contradicts this interpretation.

      This is essentially a question of rights, not a question of powers (which ultimately need to pass the rights test, anyways). I honestly don’t give a damn what a constitution allows a tyranny to do, what powers it purports to grant it over the people. The question that matters is whether the exercise of those powers is in line with morality.

      I submit that, in this case and many many others, it is not. And that is the real issue.

  • mike says on: June 30, 2011 at 6:51 am


    Agreed. In fact, I wouldn’t make a deal with Barney Frank over anything – I don’t think you can make an honest deal with someone like that.

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