Eighty years after the Twenty-First Amendment to the United States Constitution ended the US government’s prohibition on alcohol, Jeff Mosier reports in the Dallas Morning News that in elections Tuesday residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex cities of Arlington and Lewisville voted to legalize liquor stores in their cities. Mosier explains that the election results in these cities with respective populations of around 365,000 and 100,000 are part of a trend over the last decade of Texans voting to ease local legal restrictions related to alcohol:
From 2004 to 2013, Texans voted in 665 elections seeking to ease alcohol restrictions, according to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Nearly 80 percent passed.
Only two jurisdictions voted during that same time to restrict alcohol sales.
Also in elections Tuesday, Reason writer Ed Krayewski relates that voters in cities in Maine and Michigan, where recreational marijuana use has not been legalized statewide, voted for recreational marijuana legalization.
Since Californians voted to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, referenda and bills passed by legislative bodies have liberalized many local and state government marijuana laws. Laws concerning marijuana in the US have thus increasingly resembled the patchwork quilt of differing, though not outright prohibitionary, state and local laws concerning alcohol.
Without the cooperation of local and state police and prosecutors, the US government will have limited ability to counter state and local marijuana law liberalization. And when the US government does step in to enforce strict US marijuana laws, it may increasingly encounter juries refusing to convict.
Jury nullification will even protect some people charged under state and local laws that lag behind the tide of marijuana law liberalization. Jurors will look to their consciences and neighboring state or local laws for guidance. Even if some cities in Texas take eighty years to legalize marijuana stores, a majority of Texans supporting legalizing marijuana, as do a majority of Americans generally, will give a Texas prosecutor second thoughts about bringing a case against a person caught with a joint or two.
In May, I spoke with Luis Figueroa at the Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala City, Guatemala regarding the future of marijuana laws and the larger drug war in the US. The 11 minutes interview may be watched here.