US Federal control of interstate commerce.

A number of US states have legalized cannabis and others will likely follow. As I understand it, the federal government currently prohibits any interstate commerce with respect to cannabis.

Even if it comes to pass that all, or very nearly all, states legalize cannabis, I assume that federal law would continue to prevail and states would continue to be unable to import cannabis from another, even if its residents’ needs were not being met due to lack of state supply.

My question, then, is there any way that the states create a sound (Constitutional) argument to halt the Feds from interfering? Could they claim that their citizens’ medical needs should prevail? Did the founders wish that there would be situations where the federal government would be acting in a ‘negative monopoly’ position and actually prohibiting outright interstate commerce? If not, could that form the basis of an argument?
(As always, my ignorance may be showing. Apologies if so)

I’m no big-city lawyer, but I’m pretty sure Gonzales v. Raich definitively established that states cannot override federal law on marijuana, including on the grounds of “medical necessity”.

ETA: It would appear that current federal law, however, prohibits the government from arresting or prosecuting medical marijuana users in states that have legalized it for medical use.

Thanks for the Gonzalez v Raich reference. After reading about it, looks like any compassion-based argument must fail. It seemed to have less to say, though, about the other part of my question (regarding the principle of what I called the Fed’s negative monopoly over the states).

Aside from Smapti’s cite there’s a problem with that argument. There’s not a lot of scientific data to support the argument that marijuana is safe and effective for the conditions it supposedly treats. Arguments for medical marijuana tend to rely heavily on anecdote and not so much on scientific data. That currently puts medical marijuana more in line with unregulated dietary supplements than FDA approved drugs. Admittedly part of the problem is that making it a Schedule I drug suppressed research for decades. That’s starting to change but it’s early.

Think of the implications of allowing an argument of necessity based on the actual data available today. People could use that same argument to support the sale of drugs that failed to gain FDA approval. For many of them, there’s better data to support claims of efficacy but they just weren’t safe enough. Do we want them on the shelf next to medical marijuana?

I have a feeling Canada will soon become the leader on medical research into cannabis.

I believe there was a time that Federal law restricted interstate commerce in slaves.
That eventually caused an attempted rebellion by slaveholders that took several years to put down.

My friends in the frozen north tell me they are working long into the night on this.

What federal law are you referring to? The only one that comes to mind is the Fugitive Slaves Act, which fostered commerce in slaves.

This is an inaccurate summation of what caused the Civil War.

The only thing I suppose this could be referring to is the inability of slaveholders to bring their slaves with them if they established new farms in the territories. That’s not exactly “restricting interstate commerce in slaves.” :smack:

Yes, the federal government can prohibit the shipment of items between states. Obviously slavery was one of the cases that proved it, but it has also been used for quarantining of agricultural items and more recently in regards to stolen vehicles which violates federal law if they cross state lines since it is prohibited commerce.

But the issue is since Wickard the Federal government can prohibit intrastate commerce such as marijuana commerce that is wholly self-contained within a state.

What I do not understand if all (or nearly all) of the states legalize marijuana then why would the federal government not change the laws?

Couldn’t the state governors have a chat with their senators and representatives and suggest it might make sense to re-write these laws? I know they do not have to but it would be kind of ridiculous for that state of affairs to exist. I would hope even do nothing congresscritters would notice that and change the law. Since most states would be legal presumably they could override a veto if the president was not on board.

Sure. The argument can be made on originalist grounds. “Regulate” meant “to make regular” the authors and ratifiers were concerned about interstate tariffs. I appreciate the interest in economic freedom.

The reference to the Rohrabacher-Farr provision was interesting but there is nothing in the Wiki article to suggest that it has been renewed since 2016 (and it had to be renewed annually). So I don’t know what the current situation is. To my mind it makes no sense to use the interstate commerce clause to disallow a purely intrastate business. The conservatives are in favor of states rights while opposing an individual state’s right.

I’m not trying to be snarky here. For the second time, I’m asking: what federal law restricted inter-state commerce in slaves? :confused:

Seriously? Am I missing something?

13th Amendment of the US Constitution:

*Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.*

That’s not based on the Interstate Commerce Clause. As an Amendment, it’s based on itself. And reaction to it didn’t cause a years-long rebellion, because it was a reaction to the rebellion.


Not following at all.

Constitution says no slavery. Period (with the caveat for convicted criminals).

Are you saying the Interstate Commerce Clause trumps the 13th amendment? If so then the 13th amendment is what…meaningless?

Missed it in my last post:

Amendments are not secondary citizens in the constitution. They are as much the constitution as the original parts. They have no lesser status.

Heck, if anything, they have primacy since they can modify the original text (which is what the 13th amendment did).

Whack-a-Mole, you’re saying that slavery is illegal in all of the USA since that amendment was passed. Which is true.

But the question from Northern Piper was “which laws existed which specifically restricted slave trade between states, when slavery was legal in part of the USA?” Your answer and his question are about different time periods.