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State's Rights... and Wrongs

When the founding fathers of the United States got together at the Constitutional Convention, they were not entirely in agreement as to what to write. This document took years to write – years of debating and arguing and compromising and determining what might be the best way to take a brand new country doing things in a brand new way.

At one point in the proceedings, Benjamin Franklin said that while he didn’t agree with all of the proposals, he had lived long enough on this earth to realize that his was not the only opinion of how to do things, and others might just have better ideas.

One of the best known compromises revolved around States’ rights. Prior to the American Revolution, there were thirteen colonies, which became thirteen states, and people identified themselves as “a Massachusetts man” or a “Virginian,” not an “American.” The decision to have two representatives from each state in the Senate appeased the smaller states who wanted some equality with the others. The decision to have a Congressman to represent a certain number of citizens appeased the larger states with more people and thought that fact should bring them more say-so.

Many years later we think of ourselves more as Americans than as citizens of a particular state. And so it is sometimes odd that what is legal in one state may still be illegal in another.

A story from February 10, 2011 announces the dismissal of charges against one Dr. David Bruce Allen of Pascagoula, Mississippi. Allen had been charged with bribing a witness, witness tampering, perjury and possession of marijuana. He was cleared of all of these charges by Circuit Judge Robert Krebs. The trial continued on to determine whether Allen is guilty of manufacturing marijuana at his Escatawpa farm and transferring a controlled substance.

And where is Dr. Allen now? He has moved to California, where he has opened up a medical marijuana clinic. Hmmmm.

It is going to be difficult to convict a man of something in one state when he can just drive a few hundred miles west and do the same thing legally. No doubt his alleged time growing marijuana in Escatawpa has helped him learn the ins and outs of growing this crop. And with his medical certification (he is a former heart surgeon) he will be eligible to dispense it as well.

That is, unless Mississippi keeps him as a resident in one of its prison facilities.
Because, like it or not, part of that Constitutional agreement was that the States would honor the decisions of the other states. And in Mississippi, he broke the law.

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