COULD ONE STATE LEGALIZE
MARIJUANA IF THE FEDERAL
Definitely. California came close to doing so with Proposition 19 in 2010, and legalization by one or more U.S. states in the face of continued federal prohibition appears to be the single most likely legalization scenario in the immediate future.
The question is not whether a state could change its own laws; under the Constitution, the states retain a degree of sovereignty. Rather, the question is how the conflict with the continued federal prohibition would play out. The federal government would clearly retain the right to enforce federal drug prohibitions within that state, but as a practical matter it is not clear whether the federal government would expand its efforts by enough to fully compensate for the elimination of state and local enforcement.
States cannot bar the application of federal laws within their borders; home growing is legal under Alaska law, but it’s still a federal felony. Perhaps the clearest signal of this came in the Supreme Court case of Gonzalez vs. Raich, in which the Court concluded that the commerce clause allows the federal