Bongs and hand pipes, such as Medicali, NERV, and Boom Felazi, can all be considered illegal under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970; their classifications depends on how they are marketed and used (a topic for another blog). As a matter of simplicity, I’ll just say that all bongs, water pipes, hand pipes, and that natural green stuff, marijuana, are illegal items under federal law. Many people just assume that Congress has the power to make these items illegal and to enforce federal laws and penalties against Americans citizens for the possession and use of these items. If you don’t already know, let me be the first to tell you that this assumption is wrong.
In elementary school and up through high school, we all learned about the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and specifically, the Bill of Rights. We learned how the government was divided into 3 distinct branches, the Executive Branch, the Judiciary, and the Legislative Branch. Our teacher told us how Founding Father insisted on the separation of powers to avoid abuses in power and to keep tyranny at bay. After these basic precepts were glossed over, your teacher most likely fast forwarded through the Louisiana Purchase to discuss the Civil War.
While you may not think that these stories and principals are relevant to the issue of your glass pipe or medical marijuana, they are at the very epicenter of these debates. The purpose of this blog series is to dig deeper into these concepts you so vaguely learned in secondary school to explain two things: 1) why the DEA and other federal law enforcement officers are NOT allowed to raid your home or shop and 2) how they are able to do it today and get away with it.
Now that you are wondering why your Flo tube, Medicali bubbler or medical marijuana should not be subject to seizure by the federal government, I will begin to fill the voids left by your Social Studies teachers.
We all know that state governments, like Massachusetts and California, are autonomous entities operating beneath the federal government. When we want to get a driver’s license or enroll our children in public school, we make applications to the state we claim residency in. States have the power to enact laws forbidding skate boarding in public parks, alcohol consumption on Sundays, public nudity, and other everyday rules and regulations that keep society running smoothly so long as such laws are not restrictive of the rights afforded to all Americans under the Constitutions. Basic administrative and legislative functions such as these are the sole province of state governments. What you may not have known is that maintaining a police force, enforcing laws, and keeping the peace are also the sole provinces of state governments.
State governments possess general polices powers. Under the Constitution, a document that specifically outlines the powers granted to the federal government, the Executive Branch was not empowered with general police powers. The Founding Fathers decided that the federal government should not be able to intrude upon American citizens and that each state could manage its citizens and its own affairs. When an individual is crossing state lines to break laws, the federal government is authorized to take some enforcement action, but that will be discussed later in the series.
As an example of this principal of state versus federal exercise of power, if you are a California citizen that bought a Medicali bubbler in Gardena, California, and you used the glass in your California home, the DEA has no authority or power to arrest you under a federal law criminalizing the item because this would be an exercise of a general police power and would be outside the scope of federal government’s jurisdiction. If California criminalized the possession of the glass and California state police arrested you, these actions would be perfectly legal and you would be stuck in jail or broke after payment of attorneys’ fees.
As you are aware, the example I have just provided clearly flies in the face of all of the horror stories we hear going on in California where DEA raids on glass shops, medical marijuana dispensaries, and even homes of medical marijuana patients are rampant. Despite its lack of general police powers, the federal government has been afforded the right to act in this manner after a series of Presidents, namely, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, battered and abused states’ rights and the Constitution using Commerce Clause with the approval of the Supreme Court.
The destruction of states’ rights and our individual Constitutional rights using the Commerce Clause begins in Part 2 of this series.
Already pumped to exercise your Constitutional rights? Get a tube now!!