Response to the Federal Supremacy Conundrum

Both gubernatorial candidates (and many others) oppose I-502 on the grounds that it conflicts with federal law.  That is, pot will still be illegal- as it is now, even in ‘medicinal’ states like Washington.   So should we wait for the feds to legalize it first?  Do nothing, like good little boys and girls?  Or should we lead by civil disobedience?

Civil disobedience, for those who don’t know, is a “public, nonviolent, conscientious yet political act contrary to law usually done with the aim of bringing about a change in the law or policies of the government” (Rawls).  Governments rarely change from within.  They are conservative by design, even when led by nominally liberal administrations.  And so they should be, I think- we can’t be constantly changing our laws all the time without good reason.  But on the other hand -and this is vital- governments exist to serve the people.  If it is our will that we should be free to ingest a non-dangerous substance (or not- as Rick Steves opines you don’t have to be pro-pot to be anti-prohibition) we must take a stand and risk the consequences of our concerted action.

Like the states repealed alcohol prohibition one by one in defiance, so too should Washingtonians do what we want to on this one, and perhaps others will follow.  Perhaps not.  The most likely upshot will be a bunch of media attention, a little backlash, then a laissez-faire federal attitude.  After all, D.C. is a long way away and very busy.

 

It is your moral obligation to disobey an unjust law.

-Dr. Martin Luther King

 

One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.

-Dr. Martin Luther King

 

Disobedience that is wholly civil should never provoke retaliation.

-Mahatma Ghandi

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