DAVID ROSMAN: State decriminalization does not nullify federal law

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST

For those of you who read this in the paper, there are a number of people who respond regularly to not just my columns but to others as well. Collectively, I call them "The Antagonists."

I read their comments dutifully, but occasionally respond to their rants. In some cases, any attempt to discuss is met with greater rants. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes just shake my head in wonderment, but I rarely take the name calling and anti-liberal remarks personally.

However, last week I received an argument that needs to be addressed in this column. Last week I wrote about the newest attempt in Missouri to nullify federal gun control law. I received support and condemnation, so feel I did a good job in explaining myself. But one argument seemed to appear more often than others.

Simply stated: Isn’t the passing of laws legalizing marijuana also attempting to nullify federal law?

The answer to that is “No.” There are two major differences between federal gun law nullification and the legalization of pot, as done in Colorado or reduced to simple misdemeanors by cities like Columbia. Our proposed law states that the federal gun law will not be recognized within the state of Missouri and any attempt to enforce federal laws could be met with legal action.

The new rules concerning the non-criminalization of marijuana state that Missouri or local laws will no longer consider the possession of certain amounts of the drug a crime. In Colorado, sale and recreational use of marijuana is now legal without fear of arrest by state or local officials. The feds on the other hand…

The state and local decriminalization of marijuana does not nullify nor attempt to nullify federal law and none threaten legal action, civil or criminal, for enforcing federal law.

The fact that the federal government is taking a wait-and-see attitude on the carrying of small amounts of marijuana for personal or medicinal use in some jurisdictions is really quite progressive. In Colorado, the sale of marijuana is heavily taxed, adding to the state’s coffers. In the near future, the growing and cultivation of marijuana for sale in a Colorado licensed store will be permitted. The feds have said that they are waiting for the drugs to travel interstate before they will consider taking action.

That position is not under the threat of a state law but the realization that the use of marijuana as a recreational drug is not too different than alcohol. Limit the age of the buyers and users, tax the heck out of the sale and license the dealers. Fewer non-violent criminals in jail for otherwise minor offenses, but… if you screw up, you will be punished to the extent of the law.

The proposed gun law nullification misses a few things. It is designed to nullify gun control or limitation laws in the name of state’s rights. To be like the marijuana laws, the proposed bill needs to be written with that in mind, that Missouri will not prosecute offenders of the federal gun laws. However, if the feds wish to take action based on federal law, there needs to be no threat of legal action.

The gun nullification advocates, the NRA and other gun owner groups are working off a false premise that the federal government wants to take their guns away. There is no movement toward that end and courts have ruled that the Second Amendment allows for gun ownership.  

What the nullification people want is not written into the Constitution. There is nothing in the Second Amendment or in court decisions that says that the type of fire arms available for ownership cannot be limited or that local, state or federal government is not permitted to license the owners of such weapons.

Infringement is not an absolute term. Infringement does not mean that reasonable laws cannot be enacted based on the commerce clause of the Constitution. The changes to decriminalize marijuana are not designed to nullify federal law. If the Constitution is to be followed, then Article VI clause 2 must be adhered to.

“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…”

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. He writes a weekly column for the Missourian.

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Richard Saunders November 13, 2013 | 10:01 a.m.

Why must you constantly insult those who don't agree with you?

Perhaps it is you who is the true antagonist, given you're the one constantly on the attack against anyone who can see the flaws in your incoherent belief system?

From what I can tell, all you do is to fan the flames of divide and conquer in a misguided effort to remake the world to your own liking.

Is it really asking too much for you to attempt to get along with others? Or is your self-imposed victim status too important to sacrifice for that goal?

I don't even know why you continued writing after that opening, as at that point you lost everyone you might seek to persuade.

Oh wait, this is divide and conquer land, where it's really all about putting up a good fight, rather than an effort to make a persuasive argument.

Good luck with that! (you're going to need it)

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith November 13, 2013 | 11:16 a.m.


Dividing and conquering in order to to remake the world to one's liking is a well-established practice. Two of its better-known advocates during the last century were Adolf Hitler (National SOCIALISM) and Josef Stalin (Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics).
The former's right-hand man, whose first name was also Josef, elevated propaganda to an art form. Ever since there have been many who aspire to equal his efforts. They may eventually succeed, but it's doubtful they will ever match Josef and his wife, Magda, in their Nazi zeal: Josef and Magda, in addition to committing suicide themselves, poisoned their children to death so that the children wouldn't have to live in a world without Adolf.

Now THAT'S dedication to a cause! But it's also a reminder that there's a thin line between dedication to a cause and engaging in abject STUPIDITY.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams November 13, 2013 | 5:54 p.m.

David has this habit of quoting only portions of the this case, the Supremacy Clause. Of course, those "portions" are only those that attempt to make his case. He tends to leave out the parts that....well....I guess its those he thinks we won't look up.


This essay is another example.

David quotes the following from the Supremacy Clause:

"“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…”

Now, let's look at the WHOLE thing:

"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, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."

Note the difference, especially the part about "and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby."

It's interesting that the US Constitution, generally dealing only with the Federal gov't, specifically states that judges in EVERY STATE shall be bound thereby. I presume that includes Boone County and the City of Columbia.

So, David's argument falls apart. Federal laws concerning drugs, which are presumably Constitutional (arguable), say you can't have any. Those laws say it is a crime to have some. Columbia (and Colorado) want some, and wants a local law saying possession is no longer a crime.

It's nullification, pure and simple. To get to another conclusion, David had to pretzel himself and his brain.

So says an "Antagonist" (which is the only thing he got right about us...and in this essay).

PS: The fact that you wrote "but I rarely take the name calling and anti-liberal remarks personally" means you DID take it personally. Your entire opening paragraphs = prima facie evidence.

PSS: In the ACA Supreme Court decision, Roberts blew liberal misuse of the "commerce clause" all to hell. You should read the decision. You'll be hearing about that precedent soon.

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates November 14, 2013 | 11:08 p.m.

I take it Richard, Ellis and Michael have not donated to Rosman's request for money in his www.gofundme website...LOL!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith November 15, 2013 | 6:03 a.m.

@ Skip Yates:

No donations made here. See my post above (final paragraph): I continue to claim there's a thin line between dedication to a cause and engaging in abject stupidity.

Rosman is truly of no more - or less - concern than any of the rest of us, although Rosman may feel differently.

[While my response here may be sober, I did enjoy your comment. Keep them coming. :)]

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates November 15, 2013 | 1:53 p.m.

@Ellis: Your last paragraph...Roger,that!

(Report Comment)

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