So a so-called liberal Democrat President, that I voted for, now causes me to rise up in defense of states’ rights.
That Democrat is President Obama. And the cause of my anger is the latest statement from the Obama Justice Department.
Attorney General Eric Holder says the federal government will enforce its marijuana laws in California even if voters next month make the state the first in the nation to legalize the drug.
The Justice Department strongly opposes California’s Proposition 19 and remains firmly committed to enforcing the federal Controlled Substances Act in all states, Holder wrote in a letter to former chiefs of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter, dated Wednesday.
Cutting to the bottom line, why is the Obama administration drawing lines in the sand over a state’s possible decision to allow the use of marijuana, while at the same time its Justice Department cannot bring itself to bring war criminals to justice?
I agree with this analysis:
If the voters of California want marijuana to be legal within their borders, why should the Federal Government be able to say otherwise? As a practical matter, of course, there is a difference between the California Criminal Code and Title 18 of the United States Code, but that only tells us what is, not what should be. Where in the Constitution, for example, is the Federal Government even authorized to make laws dealing with possession of any substance within the borders of a state where that substance is legal?
After all, when prohibition was enacted at the Federal level it was by means of an constitutional amendment, as was its repeal.
The good news is that the Feds can cause some disruption, but have nowhere near the resources to actually affect much other than a few unlucky miscreants.
In 2008, according to the FBI’s numbers, there were about 848,000 marijuana arrests in the United States. The feds accounted (PDF) for less than 1 percent of them. The DEA has about 5,500 special agents nationwide, compared to nearly 70,000 local police officers in California. It certainly can make trouble, but it simply does not have the resources to bust a significant percentage of the state’s marijuana offenders now, let alone after every adult is allowed to grow his own pot. If the DEA could not block access to medical marijuana under Bush or Obama, what chance will it have after the drug is legal for recreational purposes as well?
Nonetheless, this Federal position breads a disrespect for the law that could have significant long term adverse consequences.
- You: California May Allow Marijuana, but U.S. Will Not (nytimes.com)
- “Feds oppose California’s Prop 19 to legalize marijuana” and related posts (online.worldmag.com)
- Holder vows to enforce pot laws in California if voters legalize marijuana (thehill.com)
- Feds Will Not Honor California Voter’s Decision On Marijuana Legalization (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Even if Prop. 19 passes, federal drug laws will be ‘vigorously’ enforced, official says (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- U.S. to Prosecute Pot Cases If California Law Passes (businessweek.com)
- Feds oppose Calif. Prop 19 to legalize marijuana (sfgate.com)
- How Will Holder ‘Vigorously Enforce’ Marijuana Prohibition in California? (reason.com)