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The DEA has failed to eradicate marijuana. Now Congress wants it to stop trying.

By Christopher Ingraham November 27 at 12:46 PM

The Drug Enforcement Administration is not having a great year.

The chief of the agency stepped down in April under a cloud of scandal. The acting administrator since then has courted ridicule for saying pot is "probably not" as dangerous as heroin, and more recently he provoked 100,000 petition-signers and seven members of Congress to call for his head after he called medical marijuana "a joke."

This fall, the administration earned a scathing rebuke from a federal judge over its creative interpretation of a law intended to keep it from harassing medical marijuana providers. Then, the Brookings Institution issued a strongly worded report outlining the administration’s role in "stifling medical research" into medical uses of pot.

Unfortunately for the DEA, the year isn’t over yet. Last week, a group of 12 House members led by Ted Lieu (D) of California wrote to House leadership to push for a provision in the upcoming spending bill that would strip half of the funds away from the DEA’s Cannabis Eradication Program and put that money toward programs that "play a far more useful role in promoting the safety and economic prosperity of the American people": domestic violence prevention and overall spending reduction efforts.

Each year, the DEA spends about $18 million in efforts with state and local authorities to pull up marijuana plants being grown indoors and outdoors. The program has been plagued by scandal and controversy in recent years. In the mid-2000s, it became clear that the overwhelming majority of "marijuana" plants netted by the program were actually "ditchweed," or the wild, non-cultivated, non-psychoactive cousin of the marijuana that people smoke.

More recently, overzealous marijuana eradicators have launched heavily armed raids on okra plants and warned the Utah legislature of the threat posed by rabbits who had "cultivated a taste for the marijuana." Last year, the DEA spent an average of roughly $4.20 (yes, really) for each marijuana plant it successfully uprooted. In some states, the cost to taxpayers approached $60 per uprooted plant.

The program has also proven to be ineffective. The idea behind pulling up pot plants is to reduce the supply of marijuana, thereby reducing its use. In 1977, two years before the program’s introduction, less than a quarter of Americans said they’d ever tried pot, according to Gallup. By 2015, after 36 years of federal marijuana eradication efforts, the share of Americans ever trying pot nearly doubled, to 44 percent.

Given that marijuana is legal in some form or another in nearly half of the nation’s states, some lawmakers are saying enough is enough. "The seizure of these plants has served neither an economic nor public-safety nor a health-related purpose," Lieu and his colleagues write. "Its sole impact has been to expend limited federal resources that are better spent elsewhere."

The letter-writers note that the provision to strip $9 million in funding from the program passed on voice vote earlier in the year, "without any opposition from either party." They urge leadership to include the provision in a must-pass spending bill later this year.

Lieu doesn’t want to stop there: Next year he intends to introduce a measure "to eliminate the program completely," he said earlier this year. Whether that actually happens will probably depend on how this year’s measure fares during upcoming spending bill negotiations.

Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.


Honolulu — A U.S. Supreme Court justice on Friday issued a temporary stay blocking the counting of votes in an election that would be a significant step toward Native Hawaiian self-governance.

Supreme Court justice blocks Native Hawaiian vote count

Jennifer Sinco Kellerher, Associated Press 1:26 p.m. EST November 27, 2015

Honolulu — A U.S. Supreme Court justice on Friday issued a temporary stay blocking the counting of votes in an election that would be a significant step toward Native Hawaiian self-governance.

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s order also stops the certification of any winners pending further direction from him or the entire court.

Native Hawaiians are voting to elect delegates for a convention next year to come up with a self-governance document to be ratified by Native Hawaiians. Voting ends Monday.

A group of Native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians is challenging the election, arguing Hawaii residents who don’t have Native Hawaiian ancestry are being excluded from the vote, in violation of their constitutional rights. They argue it’s an unconstitutional, racially exclusive process.

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright in Honolulu ruled last month the purpose of the private election is to establish self-determination for the indigenous people of Hawaii. Those elected won’t be able to alter state or local laws, he said.

The challengers appealed and also filed an emergency motion to block the votes from being counted. Last week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the emergency motion, prompting the challengers to appeal to the high court.

“Enormous political, social and economic consequences are at stake,” the application to the Supreme Court said. “The delegates chosen through this election will decide whether to adopt a new government that will affect every individual living in the state, as well as hundreds of thousands of individuals identified as Native Hawaiians.”

They argued without Supreme Court intervention, there would be “no remedy if the votes in this election are counted and the results certified,” the application said. “This election cannot be undone.


Pot forces come out in NKY


NKY groups for and against legal marijuana get their word out early.

(Photo: The Enquirer/Amanda Rossmann)

Talk about legalizing marijuana didn’t stop at Ohio’s southern border.

Just weeks after voters rejected the issue that would have made marijuana legal in Ohio, Northern Kentuckians for and against the idea for the commonwealth are voicing their opinions and gathering support for their views.

A career Air Force veteran from Campbell County who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder invited Kentuckians for Medical Marijuana, KY4MM, to Northern Kentucky for a town hall meeting on Nov. 8.

Thomas "Tony" Vance, 65, said he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder from being sexually abused as a child. Now he speaks out on behalf of other veterans who are suffering from PTSD and find marijuana to be "the only" way to feel normal.

Vance wants marijuana legalized in Kentucky. KY4MM is lobbying specifically for medical marijuana.

Meanwhile, drug prevention groups in Northern Kentucky are organizing for a "marijuana summit" on Dec. 1 in opposition to legalizing marijuana in Kentucky.

"My main concern has and always will be the impact (legalized marijuana) has on children, teenagers specifically," said Bonnie Hedrick,  coordinator of the Northern Kentucky Prevention Alliance and Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy. "When substances are available, kids are more able to use them. One example we have is prescription drugs. When they’re available in the household, kids are much more likely to use them. Also alcohol and tobacco."

The Ohio issue and a nationwide push toward legalizing marijuana helped spur the Kentucky foes of legalized marijuana into action, and their determination to push ahead even when Issue 3 failed. "The fight isn’t over," Hedrick said.

In the two weeks since the Nov. 3 election, when voters rejected Issue 3’s legalization plan, the Ohio Legislature has promised to examine options to allow limited access to medical marijuana. The campaign director for Issue 3, Ian James, said his organization has been meeting with voters across to state, and will propose an alternative initiative for the 2016 ballot.

Vance said the meeting supporting legal marijuana in Alexandria on Nov. 8 drew about 30 people, including some from outside of the region. KY4MM, which was established three years ago, led the town hall. Its founder and executive director, Jaime Montalvo, said the group has found it difficult, but not impossible, to swing Kentucky legislators to its side.

Montalvo said the turnout in Northern Kentucky was about average for town hall meetings his group has had around the state, adding, "A lot of people are still afraid to come."

Drug prevention coalitions in Northern Kentucky, meanwhile, have their Marijuana Summit, offering a daylong series of discussions about why marijuana shouldn’t be legalized in the Bluegrass state.

Kim Moser, director of the Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, said the community meeting is a chance for folks to get facts about marijuana.

"Our office is engaged in community outreach to educate, ensuring folks get accurate information," Moser said.

Those who attend will hear "both sides" of the argument to legalize marijuana, she said, "and get an understanding of the national landscape in terms of unintended consequences in states where marijuana has been legalized." The agenda includes discussion about marijuana and the adolescent brain and hemp versus marijuana.

Moser said that in light of the current heroin epidemic that Northern Kentucky is experiencing, her office is encouraging "a drug-free community altogether."

Montalvo, founder and executive director for KY4MM, said that in the past few years he’s heard from numerous families throughout Kentucky who want medical cannabis legalized in the commonwealth. "They would rather use cannabis than the opioids that they are prescribed," he said.

Medical marijuana has already been an issue before Kentucky legislators.

Last year, Kentucky Rep. Greg Stumbo, speaker of the House of Representatives, introduced a medical marijuana bill. It never passed committee. And in 2014, Sen. Perry Clark, D-Louisville, introduced a bill that would let Kentuckians use medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. The bill also died.

Another measure was enacted that allows trial use of cannabis oil to treat children who have seizures. But that law had many obstacles written into it and has not yet been useful for parents who have children with seizures.

To register or learn more about the Northern Kentucky Marijuana Summit, go to or


Nearly 3,000 Indiana corn farmers claim in a lawsuit that the Swiss company Syngenta prematurely released a genetically modified seed to market, costing them millions in losses from plummeting corn prices and a Chinese import ban.

© Brent Smith

According to Keith Orebaugh, lead plaintiff who is seeking class-action status in the lawsuit, the price of corn has plummeted over the last two years since Syngenta introduced a genetically modified corn seed called Agrisure Viptera. Farmers claim the company sold the seed to US farmers and corporations without gaining approval from China, a key importer of US corn. The problems began when China banned US corn after it detected shipments containing the unapproved GMO trait, MIR 162.

Orebaugh claimed because of the ban he suffered financial losses. He said he used to be able to sell a hundred bushels of corn for up to $700 in 2013. By late 2014, the same number of bushels was fetching about half the price. He doesn’t use Syngenta seed but, like thousands of farmers around the country, he blames Syngenta for the ban.

These cases concern the Syngenta defendants’ decision to commercialize corn seeds containing a genetically modified trait, known as ‘MIR 162,’ that reportedly controls certain insects. Corn with this trait has entered U.S. corn stocks but has not been approved for import by the Chinese government, which has imposed a complete ban on US corn with this trait,” according to the complaint. Plaintiffs are identified as “corn growers and a grain exporter who suffered economic losses resulting from China’s refusal to accept MIR162 corn.”

Farmers also blame Syngenta for misleading them about when the GMO corn could be sold in China. Syngenta made the request to sell GMO corn to China in March 2010, and told farmers and grain handlers that approval was on schedule by spring 2012. Incomplete filing by the corporation delayed the approval process, and Chinese approval for the corn did not come until December 2014.

"Syngenta, however, chose not to inform growers and the grain industry of the growing danger. Instead, it crafted a plan to mislead grain handlers and growers to believe that Syngenta would have import approval from China by the time Viptera was harvested despite all indications to the contrary," the complaint says. "The purpose of this plan was to sell more Viptera."

Syngenta’s legal counsel has denied the allegations, arguing the price of corn had dropped before China’s ban, and that the ban was introduced when China had its own record harvest. Lawyers for the Swiss company also say the corporation shared updates about the approval process with farmers and grain holders.

In Indiana alone, losses were estimated to be in the millions of dollars, Steve Wagner of Wagner Reese LLP told The Indianapolis Star. The state is the fifth largest producer of corn in the US.

The National Grain and Feed Association said “nationwide the loss is estimated to be nearly $3 billion.”

The Indiana farmers join other lawsuits filed against Syngenta by farmers and grain exporters in Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, in both federal and state courts starting two years ago.

Indiana farmer Orebaugh is seeking a class-action status in the lawsuit as a tactic to extend the state’s statute of limitations by several months, to give farmers more time to file individual claims. The state has a two-year limit on civil cases, which expired on November 19.

The federal class-action lawsuits have been consolidated in federal court in Kansas City. Some of the claims were dismissed in September, but a federal judge allowed the rest to move forward. State lawsuits are being consolidated in a Minnesota state court, where the seed corporation has a subsidiary.

Syngenta said it was Cargill and ADM’s fault for not keeping the MIR 162 corn separate from approved strains. The company says it told Cargill in January 2013 that China’s approval for the GMO strain was not available, but Cargill “nonetheless doubled down on its gamble” by entering into contracts from February to July 2013 to ship more than 2 million metric tons of corn to China, according to Reuters.

“Cargill and ADM decided that it was in their economic interest to try to ship corn containing Viptera to China anyway” to profit from high corn prices, the lawsuit said.

In a related story, both Monsanto Co. and China National Chemical Corp have shown interest in acquiring Syngenta. The state-owned ChemChina offered $42 billion for the company this month, which would have transformed the Chinese state-owned company into a direct competitor with Monsanto. The bid was rejected.

Syngenta has one of the broadest portfolios of seeds in the industry, with 6,800 varieties of its own proprietary genetics, according to Bloomberg.

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UK gets $6 million grant to research cocaine addiction

Saturday, November 21, 2015 


Posted: Saturday, November 21, 2015 12:22 AM

By Linda B. Blackford Lexington Herald-Leader

LEXINGTON – A group of University of Kentucky researchers has won a $6 million grant to further develop a potential treatment for cocaine abuse.

UK College of Pharmacy professor Chang-Guo Zhan, along with UK professors Fang Zheng and Sharon Walsh, and Wake Forest University professor Mei-Chuan Ko, are researching new therapies for overdose and addiction.

"Dr. Zhan’s groundbreaking work in this field cannot be overstated," interim dean Kelly M. Smith said. "There currently is no FDA approved treatment for cocaine overdose or cocaine addiction, and Dr. Zhan and his research team are trying to change that. Developing such therapies would be a major breakthrough for health care."

Previously, Zhan’s team designed and tested CocH1, an enzyme that breaks down cocaine in the bloodstream without producing harmful byproducts in the body.


After federal raids, U.S. tribes cautioned about marijuana

SANTA FE, N.M. — Tribes across the U.S. are finding marijuana is risky business nearly a year after a Justice Department policy indicated they could grow and sell pot under the same guidelines as states.

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Justice Department clears the air on states’ marijuana laws

Federal raids on tribal cannabis operations in California followed by a South Dakota tribe’s move this month to burn its crop amid fears it could be next have raised questions over whether there’s more to complying with DOJ standards than a department memo suggested last December.

The uncertainty — blamed partly on thin DOJ guidelines, the fact that marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal laws, and a complex tangle of state, federal and tribal law enforcement oversight on reservations — has led attorneys to urge tribal leaders to weigh the risks involved before moving forward with legalizing and growing pot.

"Everybody who is smart is pausing to look at the feasibility and risks of growing hemp and marijuana," said Lance Gumbs, a former chairman of the Shinnecock Tribe in New York and regional vice president of the National Congress of American Indians. "But are we giving up on it? Absolutely not."

At a conference on tribal economic development held in Santa Fe, tribal leaders and attorneys said Wednesday that the raids have shown there may be more red tape for tribes to negotiate when it comes to legalizing cannabis than states have faced.

That’s especially the case for tribes that are within states where marijuana is not legal. In those cases, tribes may face the challenge of figuring out how to bring cannabis seeds onto reservations without crossing a state jurisdiction, and sheriffs and state officials are bound to be less approving of marijuana, said Blake Trueblood, director of business development for the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, host of the conference.

The DOJ memo sent to U.S. attorneys last December directed them not to prioritize prosecuting federal marijuana laws in most cases where tribes legalized the drug for medical or recreational use. The memo calls for tribes to follow an eight-point policy standard that includes taking measures to keep pot out of the hands of children and criminal networks, and not transport it across federal or state jurisdictions where it remains illegal.

"Industrial hemp, medical marijuana and maybe recreational marijuana present a lot of opportunity. But for now, the best advice is to proceed with caution," said Michael Reif, an attorney for the Menominee tribe in Wisconsin, where tribal leaders filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday after federal agents recently seized thousands of hemp plants grown for research. "We’re seeing the ramifications of things being unclear in a way states didn’t."

The Flandreau Santee Sioux in South Dakota – a state where marijuana isn’t legal – was the first to approve recreational pot under tribal law with a vote in June, and was one of the most aggressive about entering the industry, with plans to open the nation’s first marijuana resort on its reservation north of Sioux Falls.

But after weeks of discussions with authorities who signaled a raid was possible, the tribe announced last week it had burned all of its marijuana plants. Anthony Reider, the tribe’s president, told The Associated Press the main holdup centered on whether the tribe could sell marijuana to non-Indians, along with issues over where the seed used for planting originated.

He suggested that by burning the crops, the tribe could have a clean slate to relaunch a grow operation in consultation with authorities.

In California, the Alturas and Pit River Indian rancherias launched tribally run marijuana operations that were raided by federal authorities, with agents seizing 12,000 marijuana plants in July. The regional U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement that the two neighboring tribes planned to distribute the pot off tribal lands and the large-scale operations may have been financed by a foreign third-party foreign.

It’s not clear if the two tribes have plans for a new marijuana venture, and calls from the AP were not immediately returned.

The California and South Dakota tribes are three of just six so far this year that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana on their reservations.

The Squaxin Island Tribe in Washington state is another, and just opened a store last week for retail sales of the drug. But most expect the tribe to face fewer legal challenges because Washington allows for recreational marijuana use and the tribe entered into a compact with the state that sets guidelines for taxing pot sales.

"The tribes are not going to be immune to what the local attitudes toward marijuana are going to be," Trueblood said. "If there’s one 30,000-feet takeaway from this year, it’s that you’re not going to be successful if you don’t work with you local governments or U.S. attorneys.


Consuming Marijuana During Pregnancy Does Not Make A Mother Unfit

Since 1985 cigarette packages sold in the United States have carried four rotating warnings from the surgeon general, including this one: “Smoking by Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, and Low Birth Weight.” Since 1989 the labels of alcoholic beverages have included this government-mandated warning: “According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects.” This week the American Medical Association (AMA) proposed a similar label for cannabis products:  “Marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding poses potential harms.”

The proposed warning represents a concession to political reality by the AMA, which opposes marijuana legalization but seems to recognize that pot prohibition is inexorably crumbling. The AMA’s wording is notably milder than the warnings for tobacco and alcohol—appropriately so, since the evidence that cannabis consumption during pregnancy can harm the fetus is less clear than the evidence that smoking and heavy drinking can. In any case, providing information about marijuana’s hazards is surely preferable to the punitive moralism of the war on drugs.

Hollie Sanford holding Nova (Image: WJW)

Hollie Sanford holding Nova (Image: WJW)

The latter approach still prevails in most of the country, as illustrated by what happened to Hollie Sanford and her baby girl, Nova. After Sanford gave birth at Cleveland’s Fairview Hospital on September 26, Nova was snatched away from her because the newborn’s first stool tested positive for a marijuana metabolite. Against the recommendation of county social workers (who are usually the villains in stories like this), Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Magistrate Eleanore Hilow decided the drug test result by itself justified separating Nova from her parents. They were not reunited until last week, after a judge overruled Hilow.

Sanford used cannabis tea to treat morning sickness and severe sciatic nerve pain while she was pregnant with Nova, as she had when she was pregnant with Nova’s brother, Logan, who is now almost 2. Her research convinced her marijuana was a safer choice than the painkillers she had been prescribed, and she may be right about that. The Food and Drug Administration puts opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone in Category C, meaning “animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans,” although “potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks.” The evidence concerning marijuana’s effects on fetuses is likewise mixed and incomplete.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, whose raison d’etre is highlighting the hazards of illegal intoxicants, says “research in rats suggests that exposure to even low concentrations of THC late in pregnancy could have profound and long-lasting consequences for both brain and behavior of offspring.” It adds that “human studies have shown that some babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancies respond differently to visual stimuli, tremble more, and have a high-pitched cry, which could indicate problems with neurological development.” NIDA also notes that “children prenatally exposed to marijuana are more likely to show gaps in problem-solving skills, memory, and the ability to remain attentive.” But it admits that “more research is needed…to disentangle marijuana’s specific effects from other environmental factors, including maternal nutrition, exposure to nurturing/neglect, and use of other substances by mothers.”


Today in History: Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 Signed; What We’ve Forgotten

On this day, November 16, 217 years ago, Governor James Garrard of Kentucky signed into law the first of two landmark pieces of legislation known to history as the Kentucky Resolutions.

The resolution was passed by the Kentucky state House on November 10, 1798 and by the Senate on November 13. The bill was then signed into law by Governor Garrard three days later.

As is widely known, the Kentucky Resolution of 1798 was authored by Thomas Jefferson, while a companion measure introduced in the Virginia state assembly was written by his frequent collaborator, James Madison.

The measures were reactions by the two first-tier Founders to the enactment by President John Adams of the Alien and Sedition Acts during the summer of 1798.

Those pernicious pieces of legislation (four acts in all) granted the federal government new and expansive powers. The so-called Alien Acts were used by the president to declare foreign residents in the United States to be enemies of the state and to have them jailed and deported. The Sedition Acts, on the other hand, endowed the president with the power to outlaw and punish any criticism of the Adams administration considered by the executive branch to be “seditious.”

The former “laws” obliterated due process while the latter violated the right of Americans to speak freely and to criticize the government, as protected by the First Amendment.

The summer before the passage of the Sedition Act, a strong-arm tactic taken by John Adams against a political adversary hit Thomas Jefferson very close to home: the prosecution of Samuel Jordan Cabell. It was one of the events that eventually compelled him to pen the principles of nullification in 1798.

Samuel Jordan Cabell was a congressman representing Thomas Jefferson’s home district in Virginia. In May 1797 a grand jury returned a presentment of libel against Cabell (incidentally, as a delegate to the Virginia ratifying convention, Cabell voted against ratification of the Constitution). What was Cabell’s crime? He sent a letter to constituents criticizing the administration of John Adams.

That’s it. That was the sum of his seditious plot. A letter to voters in his district calling out some act of the president with which he disagreed.

For this effrontery to his authority, John Adams charged Cabell with “endeavoring at a time of real public danger to disseminate unfounded calumnies against the happy government of the United States.”

That was Samuel Jordan Cabell’s predicament — caught in the spokes of a federal conspiracy — until Thomas Jefferson learned of the grand jury’s action. In response to the presentment handed down against his congressman, Jefferson anonymously (for even the author of the Declaration of Independence feared being found openly questioning the national government) petitioned the Virginia House of Delegates asking that the members of the grand jury be punished.

Upon learning of Jefferson’s petition in defense of Cabell, James Monroe counseled his fellow Virginian that he would be better off making his request to Congress instead of the state government. Jefferson’s response makes it clear what the Sage of Monticello thought of Monroe’s understanding of the true seat of sovereignty. He knew that “the system of the General Government is to seize all doubtful ground.” If the people were to sit still, would we lose everything, he warned.

Who did Jefferson believe had the right and the responsibility to protect citizens from federal abuse of power? The states. “It is of immense consequence that the States retain as complete authority as possible over their own citizens,” he wrote.

From this masterfully crafted letter in response to Monroe, we see that before he penned his views on the proper constitutional relationship between state and national government in the Kentucky Resolutions, Jefferson understood, shared, and promoted the principle of state authority to check federal overreaching.

Within a month of Congress’s passage of the Sedition Act, Jefferson had written the first draft of the Kentucky Resolution, declaring in its first paragraph:

That the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes — delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.

Then, as he did in the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson lays out the manifold violations of the Constitution committed by the federal government.

Next, he proposed a sound solution to the tyranny:

Therefore this commonwealth is determined, as it doubts not its co-States are, to submit to undelegated, and consequently unlimited powers in no man, or body of men on earth: that in cases of an abuse of the delegated powers, the members of the general government, being chosen by the people, a change by the people would be the constitutional remedy; but, where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non fœderis) to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them.

Kentucky’s state lawmakers and governor agreed. In fact, on November 7, 1798, Governor Garrard spoke to the members of the Kentucky Legislature, rehearsing to them the strident opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts already enacted by many of the commonwealth’s counties.

Garrard warned the representatives that Kentuckians were “utterly disaffected to the federal government.” He said that Kentucky and all states retain the power to “applaud or to censure that government, when applause or censure becomes its due.” He concluded his remarks by encouraging the state legislators to reaffirm their commitment to the union and to the Constitution by firmly renouncing “all unconstitutional laws and impolitic proceedings” of the federal government.

After reading the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, one wonders why in the last decade or so since the beginning of the undeclared but never ending “War on Terror,” has there been no wholesale multi-state repudiation of warrantless wiretapping, warrantless pat-downs at airports, warrantless death by drone, warrantless GPS tracking of cars, the near abolition of habeas corpus and codification of the indefinite detention of American citizens without due process of law.

Why have the states so completely and meekly abdicated their rightful position of power?

Why have they deserted their posts as sentinels set to watch for the approaching advance of federal absolutism?

Why do Americans look to Washington for cures to diseases bred by the swarms of would-be dictators that infest that former swamp?

Why do we sit idly by as congressmen, courts, and the president conspire to reduce our state governments to mere colonies of the federal empire?

Are state lawmakers and governors now so accustomed to their servitude that a benign stupor is their only reaction to the placement by the federal government of tighter and tighter chains around their necks?

Nullification, as defined by Jefferson in the Kentucky Resolution of 1798, is the most powerful weapon against the federal assault on state sovereignty and individual liberty. As Jefferson explained, states, as creators of the federal government, have the authority to nullify any act of the federal government that exceeds the constitutional boundaries of its delegated powers.

By applying the principles Jefferson expounded in that seminal document, states could simultaneously rebuild the walls of sovereignty once protected by the Constitution, in particular the 10th Amendment, and drive the forces of federal consolidation back to the banks of the Potomac.

EDITOR’S NOTE: While the Kentucky legislature removed the word “nullification” from resolutions passed in 1798 for strategic reasons, Jefferson’s foundation remained. And as a follow up in 1799, they passed resolutions expressly calling for a nullification of federal overreach.

Originally published at The New American Magazine and reposted here with permission from the author.