Public Comment

States’ Rights: Do We Find Ourselves Now in a Novel Political Position?

By John A. McMullen II
Monday October 18, 2010 - 08:27:00 PM

Isn’t it interesting to be on the other side of the States’ Rights issue for a change? When I think of States’ Rights issues, slavery, segregation, gun-control, abortion, and Arizona-style profiling come to mind. 

Now PROP 19: TAX AND REGULATE MARIJUANA may be the latest States’ Rights issue. 

Poor Eric Holder, god bless him, keeps finding himself in the awkward position of having to prosecute that which he does not necessarily condemn. (For example, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)—proclaimed unconstitutional last week by a low-level Federal judge— may be the latest one.)  

I don’t know what Holder’s personal beliefs are on the right of the individual to possess and ingest a natural weed that grows wild, but the New York Time lede reads, “The Department of Justice announced on Friday that it would aggressively prosecute marijuana laws in California even if state voters approve an initiative legalizing the drug.” 

Editorial boards, the governor, public officials, big time pot-growers who are afraid of losing money if it’s legal, not to mention big crime, are all against it. 

Let’s look back a couple of hundred years, to the first attempt to regulate another substance which alters the consciousness. 

Back in Western Pennsylvania from whence I hail, there was some “dissatisfaction with a 1791 excise tax on whiskey. The tax was a part of treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton's program to centralize and fund the national debt.” (Wikipedia: “Whiskey Rebellion”).  

Five-hundred rebels attacked the tax man.  

Geo. Washington, who had roots in Western PA, led a small army to sort them out.  

When they saw George, who was as close to god and king as a good American citizen could get, the protestors scattered. (In the ceiling of the Capitol’s Rotunda is Brumidi’s painting entitled “Apotheosis of Washington”—apotheosis meaning “transformed into a god.) 

During Thom. Jefferson’s administration—the first real States’ Rights folks—they renounced such treachery and rescinded the law on corn liquor.  

Remember, these tax rebels were the same folks settled the land beyond the first mountain range. In 1763, the British told them, “Actually, we’ve come to an agreement with the Natives that the top of those mountains will be the Line of Proclamation. We shall remain on this side, and the remainder is theirs.”  

Those Scots-Irish told the British what they’d been telling them for years: “Pogue mahone.” They went over the mountain, “got them a copper kettle, got them a copper coil, covered with home-made corn mash…and watched them jugs a fillin’ in the pale moonlight.” 

(My great-granddaddy James McMullen did 90-days for bootlegging.) 

However, Moonshine Blinds. That’s what the signs used to say in the South. Use lead instead of copper tubing and you die. Or you can turn it to methanol instead of ethanol, which isn’t good. So we had the good sense to keep quality control and tax the substance even if overindulgence leads to a living hell. Prohibition messed with that and lots died from bad liquor. Of course, tobacco trumps booze in the death tolls by a factor of 5.  


Pot Don’t Kills Us. It grows wild. No processing necessary. However, the quality needs regulating, and we need the tax revenue. It’s not perfect, but you don’t have to have ever seen a Shakespearean play to recognize that this is Much Ado about Nothing. 

My distracted point is this: we got a poor man’s rebellion on our hands. 

This is all the more reason to get out and vote just to rub it in The Man’s chest.
The law is unreasonable and unworkable, and we must test the right of the federal government to dictate on these insane drug laws. 

There is no full faith and credit clause consternation in Prop 19 as with Same Sex Marriage where a marriage contract in California has to be recognized in all other 49 states. 

Let’s see the clash of the DEA and the locals when the state and local government says yea and the Feds say nay.  

Stand up and be counted November 2! 

And maybe Mr. Holder can get back to better undertakings such as the failed promises to prosecute torturers and parasitic bankers and lenders. 




Poor Diet & Physical Inactivity 




Microbial Agents 


Toxic Agents 


Motor Vehicle Crashes 


Adverse Reactions to Prescription Drugs 




Incidents Involving Firearms 




Sexual Behaviors 


Illicit Drug Use 


Anti-Inflammatory Drugs like Aspirin 



Sources: JAMA, CDC, UN Office on Drugs & Crime, US Dept of State, Pharmacotherapy, etc. 

This is the second opinion on Prop 19; in the first, he lists talking points to use to persuade, entertain, and impress your friends. To read it, click on