Chris Powell: Of nullification in stoned America; don't fish for immigrants from the Middle East

Under legislation proposed by  Connecticut state Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, the Nutmeg State would legalize and tax marijuana.

Of course, marijuana is barelyillegal in the state now, possession of a half ounce or less having been reducedin 2011 to a mere infraction liable to a small fine, while charges of possessinglarger amounts are eligible for resolution through probation. Indeed, marijuanause in Connecticut has become so common that police, prosecutors, and courtsreally don't want to bother with it anymore, though sale and cultivation of thedrug remain felonies, at least technically.   

Looney, a Democrat from New Haven, is a big-government liberal and his mainobjective with the marijuana bill seems to be taxation, as he advocates themarijuana-business system recently adopted in Colorado, which is raising morethan $100 million a year for state and local government there. That kind ofmoney could finance golden parachutes for a few more failed football coaches atthe University of Connecticut.   

But legal marijuana is giving Colorado more than tax money. It is also producinga huge increase in students coming to school stoned, since, as with liquor andcigarettes, limiting sales to adults doesn't keep young adults from procuringstuff for those under 18.   

With legal marijuana Colorado also has built a state-sanctioned and closelyregulated industry on the violation of federal drug law, which still classifiesmarijuana with the most powerful of the illegal drugs.

While President Obama,  violating his constitutional obligation to execute the law faithfully, has toldhis Justice Department to suspend marijuana-law enforcement in states that don'twant it, a different president could take his obligations more seriously.   

Nothing obliges Connecticut to criminalize any drugs; the state is free todecriminalize marijuana and anything else and leave the issue to the federalgovernment, which maybe someday will wise up and simply medicalize the wholedrug problem, the "war on drugs" having long been only a fantastically costlyemployment program for police, prosecutors, criminal-defense lawyers, prisonguards, parole and probation officers, and social workers.   

But basing a retail industry and tax system on the violation of federal law goesfar beyond mere decriminalization and becomes nullification -- the sort of thing that New Haven has been doing for years by issuing identification cards to illegalaliens to facilitate their violation of federal immigration law --"state'srights" stuff that impairs national unity, stuff  that liberals used to deplore whenconservatives did it to thwart the Constitution and federal civil-rights laws. 

In coming months states governed by conservatives may note the success ofliberal nullification in Colorado, Connecticut and elsewhere and implore thenew president, who is suspected of having conservative if not reactionaryinstincts, to ignore laws that he doesn't like, starting with abortionrights.    The next step will be secession, though in light of how much liberals andconservatives have come to hate each other lately, maybe this time the country willagree to divide peacefully.


FISH ELSEWHERE FOR IMMIGRANTS: The mass murder committed at the Christmas marketin Berlin by a Tunisian immigrant is not quite the vindication claimed byPresident-elect Trump for banning immigration by Muslims per se.

For government to restrict people according to their religion isplainly unconstitutional.    But the atrocity in Berlin is a reminder of the civil war raging in Islambetween modernity and medievalism, a cultural war as much as a religious war,  and a reminder that immigration law must protect the United States againstcountries with benighted cultures.   

The United States can fish for immigrants in ponds with or without alligators.  It can have all the Latin Americans and Asians it wants, or lots of MiddleEastern religious crazies, fascists, and terrorists. The country needn't repeatEurope's deadly mistake.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester,  Conn., and an essayist.