Federalism: Republican Utah Senator Supports States’ Rights


On May 25, Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R) enjoyed a rather thought provoking conversation with C-Span’s Neal Katyal regarding the 10th Amendment, federalism, government overreach, and the complex issue of voter-approved state marijuana laws.

A timely issue for states that have reformed their counterproductive pot laws, Sen. Lee’s new book scrutinized the federal government’s overreach and assessed just how ‘The Forgotten Founders Who Fought Big Government’ would have reacted to a United States Atty. Gen. threatening the sovereignty of individual states – for simply legalizing a peaceful herb.

For his new book, “Written Out of History: The Forgotten Founders Who Fought Big Government,” the Utah Senator evokes the powerful philosophy that motivated our seemingly forgotten forefathers who fought valiantly against an overly burdensome federal government.

When asked during the interview whether or not Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and the rest of our founding fathers would have allowed the individual states to legalize marijuana, the Utah Republican answered succinctly – ‘Yes.’

“Most certainly, it would have been a matter of first principles.”

Click here to view video

Click here to view video

The junior Sen. from Utah explained: “I think deciding whether or not you’re going to allow a particular treatment, a particular pharmaceutical product for example; specifically if that product can be produced and sold entirely within the state in question, that a state ought to have that power.”

Sen. Lee, a trailblazer within the GOP, has continuously searched for alternatives to stiff sentences for those accused of low-level crimes. During his 2010 campaign, Sen. Lee continually shared the disheartening story of Weldon Angelos. Sentenced to 55 years in 2004, Angelos was handed what was essentially a life sentence without the possibility of parole for his first marijuana distribution charge.

Once an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Sen. Lee felt the extended sentence was little more than institutionalized cruelty. Instrumental in obtaining the Utah man’s early release from a federal correction facility, Lee’s intervention was paramount in getting Angelos released from prison after 12 long years.

With marijuana decriminalized by a majority of voters in roughly 70% of U.S. states, the will of the people is currently trumping those outdated policies in the nation’s capital. However, with the new ‘law and order’ administration seizing power and threatening all states with federal marijuana enforcement, the tension between legal states and the federal government remains extremely high.

As more states try and legalize cannabis while the federal government moves enthusiastically to enforce their laws against it, many anticipate this debate to spark a constitutional conundrum over the federal government’s ridiculous prohibition.

About Author

Born in Long Beach, raised on the central coast: I surf, dab, burn, and blog – though not necessarily in that order. I'm a husband, a father and a lifelong consumer of connoisseur grade weed. I don't drink alcohol or consume any other "drugs." I consider myself to be living proof that weed is not a gateway drug. If it were, I'd be in some serious trouble. Instead, as a 50-year-old ex-realtor that has been smoking weed for nearly 80% of my life (just did the math) ... I can only say, marijuana is safer than prescription pills or alcohol could ever hope to be for calming what stirs the savage beast.


  1. The funny thing is our fore fathers actually grew hemp and weed. They would have never let the government prohibit it in the first place!

  2. It’s about time more of our law makers in Washington start realizing that it’s the people that put them there not their lobbyists they only throw a shit load of money at them. We need more Senators that think the way Senator Lee thinks. It funny how the words are put “the JUNIOR Senator from Utah explains” and I guess that suppose to mean that he doesn’t have a trail of lobbyists in his picket yet? Well if being a junior Senator brings about change then that’s a hint there for the rest of the nation! Get rid of all the DEAD WEIGHT OLD TIME SENATORS that really only spend 10% of the time working on issues the people have put them in office for and 90% of the time working on their own agenda… ie: taking money from lobbyists to make laws for them! Sorry about that all, just kind of hit a sensitive spot, I’m done ranting.

  3. “Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of Temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislatation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded”
    Abraham Lincoln
    December 18, 1840

  4. “Gentlemen, I refuse to sign any pledge. I have never been drunk, and, by the blessing of God, I will never get drunk, but I have a constitutional privilege to get drunk, and that privilege I will not sign away”
    Abraham Lincoln

  5. Just wanted to say I think Mike Lee is the only republican I would vote for. So glad Jason is leaving and now if we can just take Orrin by the hand and help him get back to salt lake so he can relax at home. We can replace both of them. I have called Mike Lees office on more than one occasion and he does care about people. Please don’t change. Remember who your working for and thank you.

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