Under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, where state and federal law conflict, the federal law is supreme. However, that presumes that the federal government is acting within its enumerated powers rather than intruding on the police powers of the states. As discussed previously in this blog, over two hundred years has passed since the ratification of the Constitution and we are still trying to figure these issues out.
Recently, the Departmentof Justice has sent leters to marijuana dispensaries in Colorado that are located within 1000 feet of schools, they they must immediately shut down or face federal prosecution. The dispensaries are selling marijuana legally under Colorado state law and operate out of facilities licensed and permitted by the municipalities in which they are located. This is another symptom of an ongoing state vs. federal conflict that shows little sign of being resolved anytime soon - and which makes for an outstanding opportunity to discuss the parameters of state and federal power in class.