Central View: Political boundaries, campaigns and Big Marijuana
Historically, outlaws favor areas where two or more state boundaries come together. State jurisdictional disputes make pursuit by law enforcement officers across state lines not impossible, but even under the Doctrine of Hot Pursuit, timely pursuit to achieve prosecutable apprehensions is problematic.
In olden days, outlaws took comfort in the area where southeastern Oklahoma, southwestern Arkansas, and northeastern Texas came together. Plus, northwestern Louisiana was only a few miles away. In less than an hour, fast-moving, border-crossing boot-leggers or robbers could tie up four states in jurisdictional knots; then, laugh all the way to their Smoky-and-the-Bandit hideouts.
Today, southeastern Colorado is a major cross roads for “legal” marijuana trafficking. This is where Oklahoma’s Panhandle “badlands,” Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico bump borders. (In all, Colorado is bordered by seven states and is only 34 miles from Texas, none of which allow recreational marijuana.)
Some, but not all, of Colorado’s local governments have come to rely on the taxes they collect from commercial marijuana growers and from the retail sales of recreational marijuana. Ironically, despite being a federal official, Colorado U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R), who hails from Colorado’s eastern plains, has become the out-spoken champion of Colorado’s multi-million-dollar marijuana industry.
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Historical note: Colorado’s Amendment 64, legalizing recreational marijuana was a component part of President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. According to Brian Vicente, the executive director of Colorado’s major pro-marijuana group, “This is an issue that is really meaningful to young people, people of color, and groups that typically lag in registering and showing up to vote. Democrats and Obama need these groups to win. The path to the White House leads through Colorado.” Marijuana was important to President Obama’s highly successful get-out-the-youth-vote campaign.
While President Obama professed to support the laws passed by Congress prohibiting recreational marijuana, his Department of Justice (DOJ) did very little to enforce the law. But now, the Trump DOJ takes the position that all the laws on the books exist to be enforced, to include marijuana.
The pro-marijuana alternative is for Congress to change the law. Thus, the legislative ball is now squarely in the court of the Republican Cory Gardner to propose the nation-wide legalization of recreational marijuana. That will lead to a national debate. Unfortunately, hard data will be in short supply because most of the available statistics on “legal” marijuana, as related to traffic deaths and crime, will come from just three marijuana-legal states: Colorado, Washington, and California.
This is not the space in which to debate the merits and demerits of marijuana. But readers should be aware that Big MJ is a greedy international cartel capable of waging an all-out media/campaign-coffer contribution campaign in which Truth will be the first casualty. Watch out for “push-polls” designed to push voters one way or another and for polls designed to create a “band-wagon” effect that one side is more popular than the other side and is on its way to a big win at the polls.
The debate will pit citizens concerned about drugs versus Big MJ and even against some elected officials who see MJ taxes as the path to fixing voter complaints about pot-holed roads and sagging services.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and was a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. Dr. Hamilton is the author of “The Wit and Wisdom of William Hamilton: The Sage of Sheepdog Hill,” Pegasus Imprimis Press (2017).
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