“Contemporary Concurrent Majorities: Medical Marijuana, State Policies, and Federal Response”
by Jolly Emrey (UW-W, Dept. of Political Science)

In 2014, Congress prohibited the U.S. Department of Justice from spending funds to prosecute people who are complying with state laws that permit medical marijuana. In late July 2016, the Department of Justice indicated that it was going to continue to enforce federal law and that marijuana remains on its prohibited controlled substance use. On August 16, 2016, a federal appellate court ruled that the DOJ cannot spend money to prosecute people who are acting within state laws when it comes to marijuana. This issue has become a very compelling example of contemporary federalism, but it also illustrates a theory that dates back to the mid-1800s. What happens when state preferences and federal policies collide and the federal agency doesn’t get support from the institutions? Should the states be let alone if this policy is more a state and local issue rather than a matter of national concern?

Jolly Emrey is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, as well as the Director of the Center for Political Science and Public Policy Research there. Her primary research and teaching interests include U.S. law, courts, and public policy, and state and local government.