I’m sure you’ve heard the term “constitutional sheriff” thrown around. The idea is that these elected law enforcement officers will stand between the people and an overreaching federal government. They will interpose and protect their constituents from constitutional overreach.

It sounds good in theory, but the whole idea unravels pretty quickly whe these elected cops don’t know a damn thing about the constitution they claim to defend.

Take the six Colorado sheriffs who joined a lawsuit against their state. They want a federal court to overturn Amendment 64 – voter approved legalization of marijuana in the Centennial State.


As Reason Magazine senior editor Jacob Sullum put it, “It makes them uncomfortable.”

The sheriffs claim it creates a gut-wrenching conflict for them on the job every day. According to the complaint, “each [sheriff] is placed in the position of having to choose between violating his oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and violating his oath to uphold the Colorado Constitution.”

Lead plaintiff Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith told USA Today that “Colorado is ‘asking every peace officer to violate their oath,’ Smith said. ‘What we’re being forced to do … makes me ineligible for office. Which constitution are we supposed to uphold?’”

According to our intrepid sheriffs, since the federal government implemented a policy of marijuana prohibition under the Controlled Substance Act, Amendment 64 violates federal law. And because it eliminates state penalties on weed, Colorado’s legalization of marijuana runs afoul of the Constitution’s supremacy clause.

Apparently, these ignorant Colorado sheriffs desperately need a constitutional lesson.

As an aside, I would love to hear the sheriffs explain how marijuana prohibition counts as “in pursuance of” the Constitution when alcohol prohibition was not. Keep in mind, it required a constitutional amendment to ban booze at the federal level. But I digress.

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