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From the Electoral College to Marijuana Reform: State's Rights Alive and Well in 2017

In the post-election stupor a debate has been re-kindled over the necessity of the Electoral College. Nevertheless, the same guiding principle that created this system in our democracy, State's Rights, also empowered voters in California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine to legalize the use of marijuana. How can it be that a majority of the American population voted for Hillary Clinton, by nearly 2 million votes, yet in the state by state count Donald Trump took over the White House? How can it be that marijuana, a Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act and in the same category as heroin, is now legal for recreational use for more than 1 in 5 Americans?

The Founding Fathers were concerned about a populace that could be easily swayed and wanted certain powers reserved for the states or individuals. This was the goal of the Bill of Rights. The Tenth Amendment to our Constitution holds, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." In the case of the election, the separation of each state delegation and the casting of their votes through the Electoral College ensure individuals in smaller states will have a voice (some would argue a disproportionately strong voice), in electing a candidate for President. State's Rights have also allowed for the passage of laws in 28 states and the District of Columbia allowing for either prescriptions of marijuana or legal recreational use. (National Conference for State Legislatures; http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx.)

In Connecticut, marijuana is now legally prescribed by physicians for over 20 different debilitating medical conditions. These are all listed on the Department of Consumer Protection's website. If you are a business person, physician or individual involved in the legal medical marijuana industry in Connecticut and need advice on current state regulations, feel free to call Lindsay Weber in our Glastonbury office at 860.659. 0700; Cody Guarnieri in our Hartford office at 860.522.3343; or Bruce Newman in our Bristol office at 860.583.5200.

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