Monday, December 22, 2014

COMMENTARY: On marijuana legalization, Kansas should stay out of Colorado's business

Kansas City Kansan Publisher

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- For years, while I have been interested in politics, I have also been frustrated by both major political parties.

As a libertarian-leaning, non-affiliated voter, one of the reasons both parties turn me off from their brands is hypocrisy.

Say one thing, do another. Stand for one idea, only to go against it when the issue does not go in your direction.

Since this column involves the great State of Kansas, I’m going to pick on my friends at the Kansas Republican Party for a few moments.

According to the Associated Press, the State of Kansas is contemplating suing Colorado in an effort to make the legalization of marijuana unconstitutional.

Now, let me admit: I believe marijuana should be legal or at least decriminalized. I have never tried marijuana and I do not recommend anyone doing it, unless a doctor prescribes it for a medical reason. However, I’m also against imprisoning non-violent addicts and drug laws have helped lead to budget deficits and broken families.

But the biggest reason I find this upsetting is the fact that a state ruled by Republicans, the party of “states' rights,” is trying to change the way a different state does things.

Republicans nationally boast about “states' rights” when it comes to not implementing programs passed by Congress and signed into law by the Obama Administration. On that, I agree with them, especially on common core. A one-size fits all philosophy on education is wrong and the states should have more power than the federal government when it comes to public education.

As a matter of fact, states should have more power on just about everything. I strongly believe that all 50 states should be able to do things how they want.

That includes Colorado legalizing marijuana and Kansas not legalizing marijuana.

I disagree with Kansas’ drug laws, but I also respect the fact that marijuana has not been legalized. I respect that the good people of Kansas have chosen not to go in this direction. All states and all individuals should have the power to choose how they want to run their own states.

But I also respect what Colorado residents have done.

On Election Day 2012, nearly 1.4 million residents in Colorado voted to legalize marijuana across the board. Percentage wise, over 55 percent of voters said yes to the measure.

Colorado residents made their choice.

They want a state where marijuana is legal. They have decided to deal with the possible benefits: Less crime, more state funding and in the long-term, lower taxes.

They have also decided to deal with the possible consequences: More drug addicts, the potential for more car accidents from those driving under the influence of marijuana and other potential public safety matters.

While Kansas is a bordering state, our leaders need to stay out of Colorado’s business on the matter of marijuana legalization.

Colorado residents and politicians control what their state does, not the State of Kansas. Just as Colorado has no right to tell Kansas what it does about tax rates and gun rights, Kansas should not nose in on Colorado's business regarding weed.

Whether it’s Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback or any other leader in Kansas, officials in Kansas need to stay focused on Kansas and Kansas only. That's true federalism.

As far as public safety, you treat marijuana-impaired drivers as you do drunk drivers. If a driver enters the State of Kansas high behind the wheel, it's pretty simple. Arrest them, prosecute them and go on from there, just as you would with a drunk driver behind the wheel.

During the most recent election in Kansas, the phrase “real-life experiment” was thrown around these parts.

Kansas has decided to experiment with tax rates. Colorado is currently doing its own experiment.

Just as Colorado should respect the right for Kansas to do what it wants, Kansas should in turn give Colorado the same respect.

Leave Colorado alone.