Under our political doctrine of Federalism, there is a legal separation between individual state rights to legislate on a state-by-state basis verses federal law which may preempt (override) state law where there is a conflict between federal law and the inherent right of states to legislate on its own. One such example is the growing legalization and regulation of the use and sale of marijuana on a state by state basis. Federal law however strictly prohibits and criminalizes the use and sale of marijuana and classifies drug as a schedule-one narcotic. The conflict between the federals governments right to apply its laws when it conflicts with state laws is considered a federal-states rights conflict which ultimately must be resolved by the courts.
McCulloch v. Maryland 17 U.S. 316, (1819) is a historic decision by the Supreme Court of the United States:
In this case, the state of Maryland enacted a tax that would force the United States Bank in Maryland to pay taxes to the state. McCulloch, a cashier for the Baltimore, Maryland Bank, was sued for not complying with the Maryland state tax. The high court ruled that Congress may enact laws that are necessary and proper to carry out their enumerated powers. The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land and state laws cannot interfere with federal laws enacted within the scope of the Constitution.« Back to Glossary Index