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High noon

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 23, 2016 07:15 am

I've written about our coming pot problem before but in the context of "what if. . ." Now it might be time to consider the matter with a little more urgency.To refresh your memory, here is the Supremacy Clause in Article VI of the Constitution:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

And here is the federal government's definition of a Schedule I drug:

Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote

The conflict is obvious. Under the administration of President Obama, the Justice Department has been paying less and less attention to marijuana, and in 2013 his attorney general issued a memorandum that basically told states to do whatever they wanted to. So a handful of states have approved recreational marijuana use and a bunch more have OK'ed the drug fro medicinal use. But marijuana is still a forbidden drug under federal law. Smoking it or trafficking in it in states where it has been legalized won't get you any local or state charges. But you could still theoretically face federal charges. All it would take is for a new attorney general to rescind that 2013 memo.

And we might have an attorney general who would do just that. Donald Trump's preferred choice for attorney general is Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, an opponent of marijuana and a critic of the Obama administration's handling of it

"It is false that marijuana use doesn’t lead people to more drug use," Sessions argued in a speech earlier this year. (Researchers are split.) "It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal. I think we need to be careful about this."

As the article at Route Fifty notes, there are reasons to think Trump and Sessions won't go this route. So many states have eased up on marijuana that cracking down would be a tough political fight. And Trump has never been especially critical of marijuana use. A lot of people think he and Sessions will be mainly focused on immigration, and least early in Trump's term.

But it could happen.

I'm libertarianish on such matters. I don't have anything wrong with the issue being decided on the state level. Let the ones that want to legalize marjiuana do so and deal with the consequences, both good and bad. The evidence is mixed on whether it is and more danagerous than, say, alcohol. As with that drug, if you want to mess up and abuse it, that's on you. You screw up, you live with the results.

But for that local control to happen in a sane and orderly way in a proper use of federalism, marijuana has to be taken off the Sechule I list. We simply can't have that ongoing conflict between federal and state law. With more and more members of Congress from states that authorize marijuana use, maybe that will happen.

On the other hand, the marijuana edict is one more example of Pesident Obama going ouside of the Constitution, Congress and all established precedence and just doing things on his own authority. Every time it has happened, conservatives have (rightly) screamed that he was abusing his office. But the flip side is that much of what he has done is not very permanent. It can be undone just as easily as it was done, with the stroke of a pen. If Jeff Sessions decides to use his pen (if Trump lets him, that is), let's try not to be too shocked.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS

Better late than never: The Department of Defense has finally changed its policy and wil allow members of the military to carr weapons on government facilities. Now our "armed" forces really can be.

Gee, do ya think? Democrats say identity politics may have cost them the election. 

President Obama has reached 1,000 for commuted prison sentences. He has shortened more prison terms than the past 11 presidents combined.

Pope Francis equates  Chritianity and Communism because they're both, you know, devoted to the poor, the weak and the excluded. Over 100 million dead, but what the hell.

If we're judged by the enemies we make, Donald Trump is looking pretty good right now. Dan Rather says "we must all stand up to Trump."

Unfortunate metaphor alert! EPA chief says Donald Trump can't revive fossil fuel industry: "That train has left the station." Yeah, but it ain't going very fast, so I'm pretty sure we can still catch it.

According to a new study released by the Food and Nutrition Service, soft drinks are the No. 1 commodity purchased by food stamp recipients is. No. 1 commodity purchsed by non-food stamp recipients: milk.

The Obama administration has fined a police department for not hiring non-citizens. I dunno. I think you could make a good case that non-citizens should be excluded from some jobs and that public safety ought to be one of them.

Juxtaposition of the day. President Trump releases transition plan directly to the people. And: A defiant Trump blasts TV news in private meeting — then snubs New York Times. This will not be a Republican president who sucks up to the mainstream press and begs them for a crumb or two of respect. There are now plenty of ways to get a message directly to the public, and Trump is the master of them.

Finally, if you're going to lose a finger, best do it in Illlinois instead of Indiana:

Ghoulish as it may seem, the payout for employees who lose a finger on the job—or an arm, leg or testicle—is written straight into state legal code. Statutes in Illinois and Indiana assign values to different parts of the body, which feed into regulatory formulas that determine the total payment. Payments in Illinois diminish across the palm, from $108,584.24 for a thumb down to $31,432.28 for a pinkie.

Indiana, meanwhile, prices the same fingers between $46,848 and $14,000.

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