PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Dec. 28, 2015) – Last Monday, the Pittsburgh city council voted to decriminalize marijuana within the city limits, a bit step to effectively nullifying both state and federal law.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, under the new ordinance, city police will no longer arrest people caught in possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of hashish. Instead, police will levy a fine of up to $100. In the case of minors, officers will notify parents or guardians of the offense, and they must pay the fine.
The measure passed by a 7-2 vote. Mayor Bill Peduto pledged to sign the bill.
According to the Post-Gazette, “supporters say that’s better than charging suspects with a misdemeanor criminal offense, which can saddle defendants with a potentially job-killing rap sheet and burden police with paperwork.”
Philadelphia passed a similar ordinance in 2014.
These ordinances represent a kind of local version of the anti-commandeering doctrine.
The Supreme Court has long held that the federal government cannot force states to assist with implementation of enforcement of federal acts or programs. When states refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement, it makes it extremely difficult for the feds to assert their will. This has proved particularly true when it comes to marijuana. State legalization of weed and the end of state enforcement nullifies federal prohibition in practice. FBI statistics reveal law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. The federal government simply lacks the resources…