Gov. Paul LePage is doing it wrong.

Instead of protecting the people of Maine from overreaching and unconstitutional federal overreach, he’s begging the feds to trample on his state’s sovereignty.

You see, the Republican governor doesn’t like marijuana. And he doesn’t like the fact that the people of his state voted to legalize weed. He wants to maintain prohibition on cannabis. But since the people he supposedly represents have spoken, he finds himself in an awkward situation.

His solution?

Encourage the feds to enforce prohibition in Maine for him.

During a radio interview on WVOM radio in Bangor, LePage scolded the legislature for not simply overriding the will of the people. He also indicated he was urging the feds to do come to Maine and “put the hammer down.”

“I would have just repealed it and said, ‘Listen, federal law says it’s illegal, let’s move to the federal government and let them deal with this.’ In fact, I’m urging Jeff Sessions to put the hammer down on states that have recreational marijuana.”

LePage talked tough against the feds when Obama was in office. He told the U.S. Department of Commerce to take a hike when it sent a request asking him to turn over classified state information relating to people on Maine’s welfare rolls. LePage refused to cooperate, telling the feds “states don’t work for you.”

That was an nice moment. LePage also recently signed bills into law prohibiting the creation of gun registries in Maine, and expanding food freedom. So, he’s done some good things.

But LePage exemplifies the problem with so many politicians. They only stand up for the Constitution when it advances their policy preferences. When it doesn’t, they trample on it like one of those paper mats mechanics put in your car while they’re working on it.

LePage is right about one thing. The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 says marijuana is illegal across the U.S. But, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate cannabis within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

By inviting the federal government to “put the hammer down” on states with legal marijuana – including his own – he effectively shreds the constitution, obliterates his state’s sovereignty and undermines any future efforts to resist federal overreach. After all, if the feds can enforce weed prohibition, why can’t they enforce gun laws? Or environmental  policy? Or make the state give up information about its welfare recipients?

The governor has conceded the Constitution doesn’t matter. Separation of powers don’t matter. The feds stand almighty and supreme.

Yes governor, you’re doing it wrong.


LePage caricature by DonkyHotey via Flickr