Normally federal law applies to all states and localities with no exceptions. However, there are many examples of where states have passed legislation directly contradicting federal law. While the federal government has the power to intervene and enforce their laws at any time, they have not taken much action for a few key laws.
Marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency. This has not stopped states from taking their own initiative in passing laws allowing medical or recreational marijuana. While the DEA can no longer crack down on medical marijuana users in states that allow it, the issue of recreational marijuana is still out the window. With even our nation’s capital allowing the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and states like Colorado who have seen an unprecedented economic growth since legalizing recreational marijuana, it is difficult to say whether or not other states will follow suit or continue to recognize federal guidelines.
A few states have passed laws to completely negate enforcement of federal firearm regulations. While Idaho still adheres to automatic weapon bans, under section 18-3315A of Idaho law , “a personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is manufactured commercially or privately in Idaho and that remains within the borders of Idaho is not subject to federal law or federal regulation.” To take it a step further, police officer’s in Idaho found enforcing federal laws or executive orders relating to firearms can be fined up to $1000 (as per Senate Bill 1332).
Utah and Wyoming have similar laws negating federal firearms laws, and more states are using laws like these to try and resist federal legislation, arguing that states should have more control over the way they regulate firearms.
When the federal government had its period of prohibition of alcohol, it was largely considered a complete failure. When prohibition ended, the federal government allowed states to regulate their alcohol laws. In 1984, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act mandated that if states did not raise the drinking age to 21 that they would receive less highway funding. Even though these are the only federal guidelines for alcohol, states have passed laws to get around them. In Texas, under section 106.04, Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor, a minor may consume or possess alcohol if “in the visible presence of the minor's adult parent, guardian, or spouse.” South Dakota and West Virginia have similar laws, while a litany of states allow underage drinking for religious practices, medical reasons or for educational purposes.
The relationship between local, state and federal government create an array of conflicting laws. Laws at the local and state level can be tailored to a locality’s specific needs while the federal government creates laws effecting every locality, for better or for worse. One thing is certain; even though constitutionally states have no ability to suppress federal law that does not stop them from passing legislation to try and circumvent them.