The Corner

Obama Hits the Policy Jack Pot

The Obama administration has decided not to prosecute violations of federal anti-pot laws that conform to state laws, and I will not make the joke about the stopped clock being right twice a day. A policy as sensible, humane and badly needed as this should simply be saluted.


Fourteen states allow some use of medical marijuana. They include every shade of blue and red, green and red meat: From Barack’s Hawaii to Sarah’s Alaska, from libertarian Nevada to Ben & Jerry’s Vermont. They also include California, the largest state in the nation.  Most of these laws were passed by popular referendums, as the people took a legally sanctioned end-run around their more stolid representatives. The Supreme Court has ruled, rightly as a matter of law, that federal law takes precedence over these state measures. But Washington now ackowledges, rightly as a matter of prudence and practical justice, that the will of the people of 14 states should be taken into account.

I have always argued that medical-marijuana laws are not an exception to my conservative credo, but a natural item. Law and order is not served by passing laws that bring the system into contempt; liberty is not served by inserting the state between patients and their doctors; and morality is not served by withholding help from the sick. I am sorry that the honor of this change belongs to a liberal Democrat; glad, for the sake of the law and for the sick, that the change has come.

Richard Brookhiser — Historian Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor of National Review and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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