does state law over rule federal law?

if marijuana is legalized federally, how can states say it is illegal. 

18 Answers

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  • ?
    Lv 5
    2 months ago

    Federal Law is FIRST, however, for some reason..............states are still allowed to do what ever they want.

  • 2 months ago

    IF the Federal government ceases to outlaw something, that DOES NOT make it legal. It only leaves it up to states. If a state chooses to ban whatever it is, that is 100% consistent with Federal law.

    A well known example of this is prostitution. There is NO Federal law in the US that outlaws prostitution. 49 states ban prostitution at the state level, and most of Nevada bans prostitution at the county or municipal level.

    Federal law only overrides state and local law when an actual conflict exists. If it is possible to comply with one without violating the other, you are required to comply with both. If complying with state law actually violated Federal law, the Federal law would take precedence.

    Ihategrowingup: Actually, NONE of your examples are Federal law. The closest any come to Federal law is a COURT RULING that states can't limit marriage on the basis of gender. There is STILL no Federal law addressing the issue either way.

    Walter B. In they VAST majority of countries, there is NO SUCH THING as state law.

  • 2 months ago

    Federal law dominates, but the answer to your question also depends on what is meant by "legalized."  If Congress passes some bill that says anyone must be allowed use marijuana for whatever purpose, the states must respect that.  However, if MJ is simply taken of the list of controlled substances, states can still regulate it as they see fit.  An example would be tobacco.  It's legal federally, but a given state can say there is no smoking in restaurants, school grounds (even by teachers), or whatever.

  • 2 months ago

    Federal law does rule. Several examples:

    Drinking age

    Gay marriage

    Smoking age

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  • Foofa
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    The same way states have been saying it's legal for a while now, by flouting the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. Unless the feds care to get involved it's just the status quo. 

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    So far, federally it is not legalized. But states can legalize it in their state...as many have.

  • 2 months ago

    The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

    "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

  • 2 months ago

    No.  But if Congress merely repeals that federal law that currently prohibits it, so federal law neither says that it is legal or illegal, then states can say it is illegal or legal without going against federal law -- because there will be no federal law to override.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    Sometimes. The US Constitution lists what are called "The Enumerated Powers." These are the powers granted unto the federal government. The federal government is granted no power to act in regard to anything except these specific powers. 

    The Enumerated Powers are then limited in specific ways by "The Bill of Rights" and by other amendments to the Constitution, including in many instances the granting of the rights to the People to not have the federal government infringe upon those rights but reserving power to the states to govern their citizens on those rights if they so choose.

    So what does all that mean? 

    That means that federal law supersedes state law so long as the federal law falls within the Enumerated Powers of the federal government and isn't limited by any Constitutional amendment that expressly limits it as an inalienable right, like in The Bill of Rights, or expressly limits it by reserving what power that federal law tries to exercise to the states.

    That also means that state laws supersede federal law when they exercise power that the Enumerated Powers of the US Constitution do not grant to the federal government. A good example of this is education. The US Constitution gives the federal government no power to govern education. It's not mentioned. That's why education throughout the United States differs from state to state and why it's states alone that determine their educational standards, practices, laws, etc. The federal government has many times tried to work around the fact that it has no power to govern education, by creating the Department of Education and making its director a cabinet position for example and by trying to extort states into implementing federal educational standards by threatening to withhold any and all federal funding for literally everything unless the state complies. HOWEVER, the federal government knows it doesn't have a leg to stand on and is so afraid that if anything the federal government does or the Department of Education does ever gets heard by the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court will rule categorically that the federal government's actions are un-Constitutional and even rule that the Department of Education is un-Constitutional and force it to be disbanded and the cabinet position eliminated, which is why the federal government ALWAYS caves before any case actually gets to the Supreme Court on issues of education and the Department of Education.

    Marijuana is another tricky issue because controlling substances is also not among the enumerated powers. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has always looked the other way. That's in large part because states have historically been aligned with the federal government in regard to controlling substances and have found themselves ill-equipped to address the issues as well as the federal government can. So the federal government has been acting without actual legal authority in this regard, but no one has ever challenged it and gotten the Supreme Court to declare the federal government's actions un-Constitutional, so they continue unchecked by the system of checks and balances.

    HOWEVER, now that certain states are legalizing marijuana, there is conflict BECAUSE THE US GOVERNMENT IS STALWARTLY REFUSING TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA. States are legalizing it, but it still remains a federal crime. When legalization first happened for medical use and then again when Colorado legalized it for recreational use, the federal government, most especially the DEA, made overtures that it would come in, arrest, charge, and convict violators on federal charges in states that had made it illegal because it remained a federal crime. The states' response has been, "Go ahead and try." The states called the federal government's bluff knowing it didn't have the manpower or financial resources to do what they were saying and knowing that if they tried it, the states would then use that action to sue the federal government and take it to the Supreme Court on grounds that the federal government is acting outside of the the powers granted it in the Enumerated Powers of the US Constitution.

    The federal government is afraid of that happening because they actually are and the Supreme Court when push comes to shove will have say the federal government is. That would result in the disbanding of the DEA and the overturning of all federal drug laws. It would even effect the FDA and the regulation of prescription medications. So the federal government is steering well clear of that, but that means backing down from their bluff that they'll go after federal marijuana law violators in states where it's been legalized.

    Now that it's gone on, for years now, it makes the federal government's ability to try to enforce marijuana laws even more untenable because doing so would violate a citizen's rights under the Eighth Amendment, violating the clause prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment. That's because arbitrarily starting to enforce a law that hasn't been enforced and also not enforcing it with everyone but just certain people constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment." So now the federal government has even less of a leg to stand on in regard to the legalization of marijuana. Nevertheless, the government isn't budging. It's not doing anything to enforce the law, but at the federal level, there has been zero movement in overturning federal marijuana law. It's almost as if the federal government knows it can't win and won't fight but also refuses to back down, refuses to concede that it's lost a battle it's lost.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    In the USA, that which is not illegal is legal. State laws may be more constrained than Federal law. Something can have no law at Federal level and still be illegal at State level. Federal laws are those involving the Federal government or interstate. Human Constitutional rights afforded by the Federal do apply to the states. The state and federal courts and criminal justice are separate, but US Supreme Court is above all State Supreme Courts and above all Federal. 

    Now that the general system rules are described,

    Today, marijuana is illegal at Federal Law as a schedule 1 drug. States that make it "legal" are actually just removing the crimes of illegal at state level. Federal government chooses whether to enforce federal statutes or keep a "hands-off" position, or somewhere in-between. It is illegal still to move marijuana interstate(The extra in Oregon cannot legally be moved to California), and illegal to use banking systems. Marijuana cannot be purchased by credit or debit card. It is cash-only. They may have an on-site ATM.

    If marijuana laws are erased at Federal level, that just says it is not ILLEGAL anymore at Federal level. That does not stop states from keeping it illegal within their state. The only way to make it totally legal is a US Constitutional Amendment making it a human right, or a US Supreme Court decision determining the existing US Constitution covers it in some way as a right.

    The Federal Government can influence US States. They did that with alcohol, tying highway construction and maintenance funds to drinking age. Each state has its own exceptions about underage drinking. It is not the same in each state.

    Similarly, the Federal government can influence states by giving or withholding funding for certain agreeable actions.

    The Biden plan, which requires Congress action to do it, is to make it a Schedule 2 drug, legal for medical use and research and allowing funding in research. He also wishes to purge all arrests and convictions for possession at all levels of government, and no Federal intervention to states that allow recreational marijuana. The push to states is allowing medical use, and choice on recreational use. He is not as "far left wing" as other Democrats. It's still a good compromise. 

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