The consensus with regards to drug laws favors more stringent and draconian laws, with the attempt to stifle use and punish crime. There are many claims used against drug legalization, such as, moral degradation, crime, the destruction of inner cities; along with families, diseases, such as AIDS, and the corrupting of law enforcement. When one examines the effects of prohibition, one has to inquire: has the cost been worth it? Certainly, an argument for the abolition of prohibition doesn’t include the favoring of drug use, but merely recognizes the vain and utopian attempt to control individual choices. Along these lines, the unintended consequences of these attempts may preclude any benefits. Further, one has to wonder: are these laws—at the federal level—constitutional or not? This paper will examine the issue of drug prohibition from a constitutional standpoint, an economic perspective, and the societal effects these laws have.
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land. While this statement seems axiomatic, it’s essential to discern the explication and implication of this with regard to the drug war. It’s been assumed that whatever the federal government passes is by the fact itself constitutional, notwithstanding the Supreme Court. However, to the dismay of some, this statement is blatantly false.
The Constitution was ratified on the condition that only the powers the federal government would possess were the ones specifically delegated to it by the states. This is reinforced by the 10th amendment (Mount, 2010). This view stipulates that the federal government is limited and defined; and, for the government to garner new powers, the correct approach would be through Article V’s amendment process. In fact, this is the exact approach the United States did with regards to alcohol prohibition. (cite)
Typical objections to the claim that the federal government only has the powers given are the Supremacy Clause, the General Welfare Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the Commerce Clause. These four clauses have been very controversial to say the least. Scholars and polemicist’s have debated the meaning and understanding of these clauses since the outset of the Constitution. However, examining these clauses, only one meaning would seem ratifiable: what the people and states ratifying the Constitution would have understood the meaning of these clauses to be. Moreover, a clear understanding of these clauses will dictate faithful obeisance to its meaning, and not transgression; for if the life of the drug war hangs on a breach of the constitution, justice demands remediation.
Understanding the Supremacy clause and its consequences would settle many disputes; however, we are only concerned with one issue: drug laws. Most people would claim that federal law trumps state law by citing the supremacy clause; yet this would be deceptive. The Supremacy clause says the Constitution and laws in pursuance thereof shall...