Opinion

Colorado can handle marijuana regulation without federal meddling

Author: Sen. Owen Hill - February 12, 2018 - Updated: February 12, 2018

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Owen Hill

As a father of four young children, I have concerns about the prevalence of marijuana in our community. The subject has become a regular topic of conversation in our family several times a week and every one of our children knows the pungent stench of marijuana.

In my five years as a state senator I have worked to control the harmful effects of marijuana legalization. From requiring childproof packaging, to increasing the standards for labeling, and reducing the number of marijuana plants any individual can grow from 99 to 12.

While I work to educate my children about the dangers of marijuana, I am adamantly opposed to the federal government having any say about what goes on regarding marijuana within Colorado’s borders.

There are countless other issues that our federal government should be working to fix from enforcing our immigration laws to taking down violent criminals and sex-trafficking gangs.

I have taken oaths to uphold the constitution as both a commissioned military officer and a state senator. Our state constitution clearly provides that marijuana, both recreational and medical, is legal by a popular vote of the citizens of Colorado. The US constitution also clearly states in the 10th amendment that any powers not expressly granted to the federal government are reserved to the states.

While some will wrongly argue that the supremacy clause or the commerce clause give the federal government the authority to meddle in our local issues, I side with conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas:  That if Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything — and the federal government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.

​He goes on to say: “Whether Congress aims at the possession of drugs, guns, or any number of other items, it may continue to appropria[te] state police powers under the guise of regulating commerce.”​

..(O)ur congressional delegation should introduce a simple bill to ensure that on the issue of marijuana, when state law is in conflict with federal law, the federal government will defer to the states.

Instead of the political posturing we have seen from career politicians, our congressional delegation should introduce a simple bill to ensure that on the issue of marijuana, when state law is in conflict with federal law, the federal government will defer to the states.

President Trump supports this view. As he told the Washington Post: “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state.”

The only politicians standing in the way of this sensible reform to respect both states’ rights and a limited federal government, are those who long for a big, expensive and liberty-choking federal government.

While it is easy point fingers at Democrats as the party of big government, I’m embarrassed to say that many of my fellow Republicans are guilty of this sin against conservative-leaning thought.

Indeed, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s statements and actions would lead you to believe that all the great policing issues facing our country have been resolved, and the might and attention of the federal government must be turned against legal commerce in the state of Colorado.

I urge the attorney general to look to the real policing issues facing our country and not manufacture a legal-crusade to drastically expand the size, scope and authority of the federal government.

Look to the 10th Amendment, sir!

Sen. Owen Hill

Sen. Owen Hill

Owen Hill, a Colorado Springs Republican, represents District 10 in the Colorado Senate. He is seeking the GOP nomination to represent Colorado's 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House.