Chuck Schumer, Marijuana Federalist

Today on MSNBC, Sen. Chuck
Schumer (D-N.Y.)
that states should be free to try different approaches to
marijuana and that the results of those “experiments” will help
inform federal policy:

Chuck Todd: Do you see it as inevitable
that recreational use is going to be legal in all 50 states in your

Chuck Schumer: You know, it’s a tough
issue. We talk about the comparison to alcohol, and obviously
alcohol is legal, and I’m hardly a prohibitionist. But it does a
lot of damage.

And so the view I have—and I’m a little cautious on this—is
let’s see how the state experiments work. We now have the states as
laboratories, different states at different levels. Colorado and
Washington sort of opened the door. The governor’s [medical
marijuana] proposal in New York, much more cautious. I’d be a
little cautious here at the federal level and see the laboratories
of the states, see their outcomes before we make a decision.

Todd: But you believe that the federal
government should let the states do this, because they could crack
down and say no.

Chuck: Well, I think having the states
experiment is a good idea.

This is pretty similar to what President Obama
has said
: that it’s useful for states to function as
laboratories of democracy in this particular area. That view is
rather different from Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s
, which is that federalism is not just a good idea;
it’s the law. Obama and Schumer probably both are more sympathetic
to marijuana legalization than Perry, who says it’s not right for
Texas. But a principled
is a more reliable protector of state policy
experimentation, since it does not depend on the whims of the
president or Congress. 

You can watch Schumer’s comments
, starting around the 10:40 mark.

[Thanks to Tom Angell for the tip.]

from Hit & Run

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