International treaties vs. prohibition of drugs
I have been told by many producers of cannabis that we can not possibly legalize cannabis on a state or even a national level because of international treaties.
They have stated that we must keep marijuana illegal because the legalization of marijuana would break several treaties that we have came into agreement with other countries about “controlled substances”. Namely the follow two.
The premise of this (from the opposition) is that the federal government regardless of their intent or the constitutionality of their laws reign supreme.
I have heard from at least three of these people on facebook (I have the conversations saved for later reference), that if we legalize marijuana in the USA that foreign countries would revolt against us.
I contest this on the fact that the USA has opted out of other treaties, and we base precedence of this on Article VI of the constitution. I also propose that the 10th Amendment was intended and does in fact give states the rights to decide their own laws.
My reply is very simple, but I have 4 points to make.
1. The United States is a sovereign national, lets not forget why and how the USA was originally founded.
2. The US government is for the people by the people
3. The 10th Amendment grants and ensures states rights as well as the will of the people
4. Consenting to prohibition is not in anyone’s best interest (except for those who have a monetary stake in the matter)
This is obvious just by referencing what was taught in high school social studies and history classes that the United States was formed as a sovereign nation due to taxation without representation, lack of religious freedom, and the idea that every humans deserve; “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”
That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
Benjamin Franklin was in agreement with Thomas Jefferson in downplaying protection of “property” as a goal of government. It is noted that Franklin found property to be a “creature of society” and thus, he believed that it should be taxed as a way to finance civil society. The United States Declaration of Independence, which was primarily drafted by Jefferson, was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The text of the second section of the Declaration of Independence reads:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Now these are the technical details that show our Constitution reigns supreme over any such treaties, further asserting our sovereignty.
The domestic and international legal nature of these treaty obligations must be considered in light of the supremacy of the United States Constitution over treaties or acts and the equality of treaties and Congressional acts. In Reid v. Covert the Supreme Court of the United States addressed both these issues directly and clearly holding:
[N]o agreement with a foreign nation can confer power on the
Congress, or on any other branch of Government, which is free from the
restraints of the Constitution. Article VI, the Supremacy Clause of the
Constitution, declares: “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; . . .” There is nothing in this language
which intimates that treaties and laws enacted pursuant to them do not
have to comply with the provisions of the Constitution. Nor is there
anything in the debates which accompanied the drafting and ratification
of the Constitution which even suggests such a result. These debates, as
well as the history that surrounds the adoption of the treaty provision
in Article VI, make it clear that the reason treaties were not limited
to those made in “pursuance” of the Constitution was so that agreements
made by the United States under the Articles of Confederation, including
the important peace treaties which concluded the Revolutionary War,
would remain in effect. Footnote 31
It would be manifestly contrary to the objectives of those who created
the Constitution, as well as those who were responsible for the Bill of
Rights — let alone alien to our entire constitutional history and
tradition — to construe Article VI as permitting the United States to
exercise power under an international agreement without observing
constitutional prohibitions. Footnote 32
In effect, such construction would permit amendment of that document in
a manner not sanctioned by Article V. The prohibitions of the
Constitution were designed to apply to all branches of the National
Government, and they cannot be nullified by the Executive or by the
Executive and the Senate combined. There is nothing new or unique about
what we say here. This Court has regularly and uniformly recognized the
supremacy of the Constitution over a treaty. Footnote 33
For example, in Geofroy v. Riggs, 133 U. S. 258, 133 U. S. 267, it
declared: “The treaty power, as expressed in the Constitution, is in
terms unlimited except by those restraints which are found in that
instrument against the action of the government or of its departments,
and those arising from the nature of the government itself and of that
of the States. It would not be contended that it extends so far as to
authorize what the Constitution forbids, or a change in the character of
the government, or in that of one of the States, or a cession of any
portion of the territory of the latter, without its consent.” This Court
has also repeatedly taken the position that an Act of Congress, which
must comply with the Constitution, is on a full parity with a treaty,
and that, when a statute which is subsequent in time is inconsistent
with a treaty, the statute to the extent of conflict renders the treaty null. Footnote 34
It would be completely anomalous to say that a treaty need not comply
with the Constitution when such an agreement can be overridden by a
statute that must conform to that instrument.
According to the Cato Institute, these treaties only bind (legally obligate) the United States to comply with them as long as that nation
agrees to remain a state party to these treaties. The U.S. Congress and the President of the United States have the absolute sovereign right to withdraw from or abrogate at any time these two instruments, in accordance with said nation’s Constitution, at which point these treaties will cease to bind that nation in any way, shape, or form.
Finally I’ll end with this very bold American truth:
Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. ~Abraham Lincoln
For further reading, please see how Professor Timothy Leary got the “Marijhuana Tax Act” repealed in 1969.