The American Federalism

I believe that the states should be allowed to create the policy that they want, even if it goes against the federal government, as long as it does not harm the citizens and does not go against the Constitution. It is a misnomer to equate the federal government with the population, as the two sometimes do not see eye to eye. For example, it has been evident for some time that the federal government has adopted a ‘reefer madness’ stance on marijuana, although only 8% of Americans want to keep it illegal (Daniller, 2019). Even if states pass laws that are supposed to legalize marijuana use, the federal prohibition of Schedule 1 controlled substances places enormous hurdles on the industry through uncertainty and regulation of adjacent industries (Arkell & Sparks, 2018). Several states have evidently recognized this, and these federal hurdles benefit nobody. On the other hand, passing federal laws regarding such hot and divisive issues as abortion could benefit a large share of the US citizens, but also could be seen as political activism that infringes on the states’ rights to navigate these issues on their own.

For these reasons, federal law has to let states define as much of their policy as possible, since the states already are responsible for the majority of their administration, and the federal government would naturally fit into the role of a mediator. The presence of an authority that supersedes that of the states diminishes the entire point of the states’ existence. The original idea behind the American federalism was that it was a union of the sovereign, but closely cooperating states. Having a federal government that can unequivocally tell the states what to do goes against that idea, and turns cooperation into competition. If states could create their own policy that would not have to follow the federal law, they could develop a much more effective and tailor-made legal environment. Another thing to consider is that, when there is a federal government with supreme authority, stakeholders can lobby that power to deprive other states of choice and create a handy excuse for their population: “the Fed says so.” When the supreme authority can be safely ignored, states could focus on their own policy, rather than wage a defensive war against their partisan opponents.


Arkell, J., & Sparks, H. C. (2018). It’s illegal!–Marijuana related businesses and the accounting profession. Journal of Accounting and Finance, 18(9), 23-31.

Daniller. A. (2019). Two-thirds of Americans support marijuana legalization. Web.

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DemoEssays. "The American Federalism." December 28, 2022.