Good Question: Can marijuana be legalized at the county level?
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - For today’s Good Question, Jason asks, “If states can legalize medical and recreational marijuana, even with it being illegal federally, can a county in the commonwealth legalize it even though it’s illegal on the state level?”
For this answer, we reached out to UK’s Rosenberg College of Law. Professor Josh Douglas says it has to do with how each of those entities was created.
“Counties are arms of the state, so they must follow state laws. They do not have any authority not given to them by the state, because states create and authorize counties,” Douglas said. “States, on the other hand, are not arms of the federal government, and the federal government does not create the states. They are separate sovereigns.”
That’s why, for example, gay marriage was legal in some states well before the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made it the law of the land. That’s also why states can determine their own marijuana policies, even if it’s not legal on the federal level.
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